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Police probing death of soldier: Manohar Parrikar

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Police are probing the death of Lance Naik Roy Mathew who was found dead in an army barracks, the Lok Sabha was told on Friday.

Replying to queries in the House, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar  said the soldier was found dead in an army barrack days after he featured in a sting video criticising the 'Sahayak' system in the Army.

Saying this was an “isolated incident,”  the minister said consultations are on over the Sahayak system. "It (Naik's case) was an isolated incident. Police is carrying out an independent probe," he said.

Parrikar, however, refused to make any further comments on the incident. "I don't want to make any comment on it as it would be prejudicial to say anything at this stage," he said.

Lance Naik Mathew was found dead in a barrack in Maharashtra's Devlali Cantonment on 3 March.

The minister said consultations are on over the Sahayak system, which came into focus recently after a few soldiers took to social media to air their grievances over the buddy system in the Army. 

"We are in consultation with all concerned and an appropriate mechanism would be worked out soon," Parrikar said.
 Earlier, responding to a question on this subject, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, said there were a few incidents of complaints by jawans, but it did not reflect the collective mood of the soldiers.

"There are various mechanisms to address the grievances of jawans, that include regular holding of 'Sainik Sammelan' where the soldiers can raise their problems," Bhamre said. 

Earlier this week, another soldier, Sepoy Sindhav Jogidas Lakhubhai of the Army Medical Corps, took to social media to attack the 'batman' or Sahayak system in the Army. Earlier, Lance Naik Yagya Pratap had posted a video on the same issue. The Army has, however, said both the soldiers were never assigned any Sahayak roles.

Self-reliance: The government is pursuing several measures to realise progressively higher levels of indigenisation and self-reliance in the defence sector.  To this end, the Defence Procurement Procedure 2016 (DPP 2016) has provisions which accord higher priority to procurement from Indian vendors, Bhambre said.

He said notwithstanding this, import of defence equipment may be necessitated to meet operational requirements and when indigenous equipment is not available.

The modernisation of the Armed Forces is an ongoing process and is executed in consonance with the roadmap laid down in the Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) which specifies the capabilities that the armed forces need to acquire over a 15 year period (2012-27), considering the current capabilities of the armed forces, the emerging threats in the region and the prevailing technological environment, Bhambre said.