Army To Probe If Procedure To Hire Porters Was Followed
12 February 2004
The Indian Express
New Delhi: Days after five residents of Bandipora were killed in an 'encounter', an Army inquiry is looking into whether the local military formation followed procedure while hiring them as daily wage porters. The Army can hire locals as porters only through the state government's labour officer, and in some cases, after advertising in the media. While the Army has the option of raising regular porter companies during war, it is entitled to recruit locals as daily wage porters. In last week's incident, local residents had claimed the Army had 'dragged' the five men away, while the Army said they had been 'recruited'. Strangely enough, while the Defence Ministry offers compensation in the event of an injury leading to disability, the sum comes down if the hired porter is killed. In either case, the porter or his next-of- kin will get a paltry sum of Rs 20-22,000 as compensation, said sources. Porters have played a key role in the Army's efforts to man posts in inhospitable terrain. Once recruited, they are paid daily wages ranging from Rs 80 to Rs 100. But the Army does not offer any insurance cover to them.