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BSF orders disciplinary action against doctor over death of jawan weighing 160 kg

The Border Security Force (BSF) has ordered disciplinary action against a doctor of the force for alleged lapses in declaring a jawan weighing 160 kg fit for undertaking a physical fitness course during which he died, officials said on Thursday.

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 06-08-2020 16:20 IST | Created: 06-08-2020 16:20 IST
BSF orders disciplinary action against doctor over death of jawan weighing 160 kg

The Border Security Force (BSF) has ordered disciplinary action against a doctor of the force for alleged lapses in declaring a jawan weighing 160 kg fit for undertaking a physical fitness course during which he died, officials said on Thursday. Constable Vinod Singh, 45, died on July 17 after he "felt giddiness in the evening hours near his barracks" at the BSF subsidiary training centre in Rajasthan's Jodhpur.

BSF Director General (DG) S S Deswal had ordered an immediate inquiry into the incident. "Disciplinary action has been ordered against a doctor of the force after preliminary enquiry was completed recently in a case related to the death of a jawan at a training centre in Jodhpur," a senior officer said.

"Further process to fix accountability is under progress," he said. The BSF had earlier said that the jawan was "a low medical category person having weight of 160 kgs with a BMI of 52.98".

"However, it has been found that the deceased constable was declared fit for the fitness course. An inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the circumstances under which the individual was declared fit for the course," it had said. Singh, working as a water carrier in the 114th battalion of the force, had joined the Jodhpur-based training centre to undergo a physical fitness course on July 15.

These fitness courses have been initiated by DG Deswal, who has ordered that all fat and obese personnel in the border guarding force should be identified and sent for physical training.  The BSF chief has also directed the medical wing of the force and other senior commanders to "regularly monitor" the eating habits of the troops and officers. He has asked his commanders to ensure that oily food is replaced with nutritious meals in all formations of the nearly 2.5 lakh-strong force tasked primarily with guarding Indian frontiers with Pakistan and Bangladesh.

"A balanced diet and exercise is the top-most priority. A healthy regime should be the habit in the force," the DG told his force. "I am not a fair-weather friend of the country but a foul-weather friend. I have to be the first when it comes to undertaking difficult tasks when a disaster of this scale strikes, that is the pandemic of coronavirus," Deswal had told PTI in June when asked about his decision to order movement of troops held up due to the lockdown in the country.

A section of officers, however, questioned the move to resume the training courses amid the rising cases of coronavirus in the country as also in the force.  As per the latest data, there have been over 4,660 COVID-19 cases in the BSF till now, out of which around 1,887 personnel are under treatment, while the rest have recovered.  Thirteen personnel have succumbed to the infection. "The latest cases are largely of those personnel who are being tested in quarantine as they have joined back their units for regular work or are moving for training courses.

"The death cases are majorly in those instances where the personnel were suffering from a co-morbid condition including a death due to accident and the deceased later tested positive for coronavirus," a senior officer explained. Officials allege that a good number of new cases of COVID-19 infection are being reported from various training centres like those in Kharkan (Punjab), Hazaribagh (Jharkhand), Udhampur (Jammu and Kashmir) and Indore and Tekanpur in Madhya Pradesh.

"We are witnessing a high number of COVID-19 cases in the country still. While it is essential to continue regular work, it is beyond comprehension as to why the training courses have been resumed? They can be postponed further," a senior officer said. However, others reasoned that all quarantine and isolation measures have been ensured for the personnel, and a uniformed organisation like the BSF cannot just live at home or in the barracks.

"We will have to live with the virus now by taking all the stipulated precautions," the officer said. A June order issued by the force stating that there was "no need" for personnel to undergo quarantine while reporting for training has been "superseded" by another that says everyone reporting to a training centre will have to undergo a quarantine.

The earlier order had stated that personnel should only be taken for medical care if they showed COVID-19-like symptoms. After the completion of a physical efficiency test in Delhi recently, the BSF had said that its field exercise "has helped officers re-boot their confidence level to new highs and would help set an impressive precedent of keeping all ranks combat ready and fit at all places of deployment." PTI NES IJT



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