No Water, No Toilets: CRPF Jawans on Jharkhand Poll Duty Complain
A makeshift toilet provided by Jharkhand civil authorities to CRPF jawans on election duty. 
A makeshift toilet provided by Jharkhand civil authorities to CRPF jawans on election duty. (Image: Kamran Akhter/The Quint)

No Water, No Toilets: CRPF Jawans on Jharkhand Poll Duty Complain

“Sir, I suppose in this country after Terrorists and Naxalites, our JAWANS also have some Human Rights. (sic)”

This is what CRPF Assistant Commandant Rahul Solanki wrote in his letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora regarding “inhuman and pathetic conditions faced by CRPF Jawans” on Jharkhand Assembly election duty.

This kind of pathetic and inhuman attitude of Civil Authorities towards health and hygiene of jawans is nothing but a violation of their dignity and human rights. 

In the letter dated 23 November 2019, accessed by The Quint, Solanki points out the lack of basic amenities like food, water, hygiene, etc, ever since they started their journey to Jharkhand via train.

Speaking about the letter, a spokesperson for the CRPF said, “most of the issues have already been sorted out and other issues are being attended to make our troops living conditions comfortable.”

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Not Sufficient Toilets

To find out whether the problems have actually been resolved, The Quint contacted the jawans, and to our surprise, we found that the CRPF has made a misleading statement.

The CRPF jawans were told to camp in a school at Madhyamik Vidyalaya Kuhkuhkala in Jharkhand. The co-ed school has more than 600 students, 280 boys and 320 girls but has only 2 toilets including the ones for teaching and non-teaching staff, says the letter.

A makeshift toilet provided by Jharkhand Civil Authorities.
A makeshift toilet provided by Jharkhand Civil Authorities.
“There is no arrangement of drinking water for Jawans even after doing multiple requests to Civil Authorities. Civil Police is saying drinking water can be provided on payment basis only.”
Excerpt from the letter

Since two toilets were not sufficient for CRPF jawans, civil police made one toilet block by using bamboo and black polythene.

Solanki says, the makeshift toilets “can be anything but toilet.”

Around 300 companies – 3,000 CRPF personnel – are deployed in Jharkhand for the elections. We have learnt that similar makeshift toilets have been provided to most of the CRPF jawans deployed in Jharkhand.

Jawans Are Buying Drinking Water

The Quint learnt from CRPF personnel that they are buying drinking water.

“CRPF jawans get Rs 117 per day for food. When we asked seniors to pay for water, we were told that water is a food ingredient. So no extra money will be given for water.”
A CRPF personnel

No Mattress, No Pillow, Not Enough Space to Rest

The Quint learnt from the jawans camping in the school in Jharkhand that though the location is clean, but not enough space has been provided to them.

A classroom where jawans don’t even have enough room to rest.
A classroom where jawans don’t even have enough room to rest.
“Around 15 jawans are sharing one classroom (18 x 20 feet). Jawans are sleeping on the floor, without mattresses and pillows.”
A CRPF personnel

Inedible Food Supplied By IRCTC

School corridor turned into kitchen.
School corridor turned into kitchen.

The CRPF jawans complained about the quality of lunch provided by IRCTC while they were at Bilaspur Railway Station, says the letter. Solanki points out that the IRCTC “food was non-edible.”

The jawans made a makeshift kitchen in the corridors of the school to prepare food. A jawan said that they carry enough of dry ration, hence they are not facing any food problem.

‘Local Drivers There Out of Fear of Cops’

For local movement in Jharkhand, the CRPF jawans were given 6 vehicles with 6 drivers. Solanki points out in the letter that the drivers were complaining about being put on such a duty but were compelled because of the “fear of police.”

“Drivers are complaining that they are not being paid on time and no food arrangements have been done for them. On humanitarian grounds our jawans are sharing their food with them free of cost as drivers are declaring themselves as paupers.”
Excerpt from the letter

CRPF personnel often face a lack of basic amenities and infrastructure, but they rarely speak up because of security concerns, a jawan told The Quint. Around two lakh CRPF personnel were deployed in the remotest places of the country to maintain peace, law and order during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Rarely do soldiers complain about their problems, but does that mean that the government can ignore their basic needs? How well can they do their job if they don’t even have access to basic amenities?

The Quint has written to the Election Commission for its response to Solanki’s letter. The article will be updated as and when we receive a reply.

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