A few Armyregimental centres have taken to publically destroying mobile phones of recruits if they are caught using them in violation of rules to send a stern message down the ranks that indiscipline will not be tolerated during training programmes.
This unusual measure to enforce discipline at some regimental centers, where recruits undergo 11 to 12 months of training to become soldiers, has come to the fore after a video of such an incident went viral a couple of days ago.
The video, which was even uploaded on the China Global Television Network website on Friday to depict the Indian Army in a bad light, shows the mobile phones of around 50 recruits being smashed to smithereens with rocks and stones in front of them at the Mahar Regimental Centre at Saugor in Madhya Pradesh.
Justifying the disciplinary action, which was taken three to four times more since the video in question was filmed in September 2015, Army officers said “such unusual measures” are taken if recruits repeatedly disobey orders that no mobile phones are permitted during physical training, drill and weapon-training classes.
“The Army is all about discipline, which is critical in the face of enemy. Recruits cannot flout discipline with impunity.
The recruits are usually let off with a warning at first.
Their phones are confiscated for some days if they continue to disobey orders,” said a senior officer.
“But if all this does not work, then their phones are destroyed as a clear message to them.
The Army trains its soldiers for war.
If they are allowed the latitude to disobey in peace,they could do the same during war,” he added.
The recruits at the Mahar Regimental Centre have to deposit their mobile phones with their “platoon havaldars” and take them for use as and when required.
“The centre has also set up several STD phones for recruits who want to contact their families,” said another officer.
Enforcing discipline over the unauthorized use of mobile phones along forward areas or sensitive establishments is a cause of concern for the Army.
A soldier, Naik Kathi Resan of 19 Madras, for instance, had shot dead a young officer, Major Shikar Thapa, after he was scolded for using a mobile phone during guard duty in a forward post near the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir in July, as was then reported by TOI.
As a general rule, the Army does not allow “smartphones with cameras” in many of its establishments and units around the country.
The armed forces also regularly issue instructions to ensure all personnel maintain cyber security in light of mounting espionage attempts through malicious software to steal data from smartphones as well as computers.
Troops posted along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China were also recently asked to delete a number of mobile applications like WeChat, Truecaller, Weibo, UC Browser and UC.
News from their phones or reformat them to guard against online espionage attempts from across the border.