Sahayaks or orderlies in the Indian Army have "clearly defined" military duties, the Government said on Tuesday in the Parliament.
The Sahayaks system – whereby a solider is attached to officers and Junior Commissioned Officers (JCO) - has increasingly been questioned as allegations of misuse have come to the fore.
Earlier, allegations of misuse forced the Indian Army to direct all formations not to make grievances public. In social media posts Sahayaks have alleged that they were forced to work as domestic help.
Interestingly, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy have done away with the system of Sahayaks. Unlike the Indian Army, operations in the Navy and the Air Force are platform centric. The Indian Army maintains that its operations are not platform specific, requiring them to continue with the "buddy system".
The Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, warned personnel from using social media to air their grievances and even put out a WhatsApp number for the rank and file to convey their problems directly to the Army Headquarters.
Defending the Sahayak system the Government told the Parliament "Sahayaks are combatants and provide support to officers and JCOs in the Army when serving with units or HQ functioning on War Establishments."
Minister of State for Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre told the Parliament they have "clearly defined military duties" and were an "integral part of the organisation". He added that in "operations in the field areas, Officer/JCO and the Sahayak act as buddies in arms. One covers the movement of the other buddy and protects him in operation". The support is total – "mental, physical and moral".
The Government defended the Sahayak system when inquires into the allegations of misuse and bad treatment are almost complete. Sources said that investigations have revealed all three complaints to be false.
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