Ex-servicemen raise doubts over ‘intake’ in bomb squad

A section of ex-servicemen attached to the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) has expressed serious concerns over the way in which new recruits are inducted into the unit. It is being alleged that there is no transparency in appointments to the squad that is entrusted with the crucial duty of safeguarding VVIPs and those visiting the State.

“There is no information on the selection process for hiring ex-servicemen for the BDDS. The vacancy, if any, is not advertised and no information is provided about the final result. The certificates of successful applicants are not checked,” alleged a senior BDDS official.

A senior officer in the Army Welfare Placement Node in Chennai, said the Army is not allowed to take part in the process of selection of ex-servicemen. “We suspect that officers involved in this process want their preferred candidates to be hired. Even when we approached the officers, we were discouraged and not engaged to be part of the process,” he alleged.

The Tamil Nadu government had issued an order to set up the BDDS unit a year after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and laid down guidelines to be followed for taking in ex-servicemen with expertise in bomb detection and disposal.

Since BDDS is not part of the regular police force, ex-servicemen are hired on contract and the process is not governed by the Tamil Nadu Uniformed Services Recruitment Board. Whenever there is a need for more personnel, the Rajya Sainik Board (Soldiers’ Board in local parlance) in Periamet is supposed to be informed so that eligible candidates across the State are intimated to take part in the process. “But, the Board is not informed and the hiring is made discreetly and with preferred candidates. Their certificates are not cross-checked with the Army to ascertain whether they are genuine. This could pose a security risk to VVIPs,” claimed a source in the BDDS.

Sources claimed following concerns raised by a section of ex-servicemen, the latest hiring of about 27 personnel has been put on hold. When
The Hindu
sought for a comment, Additional DGP (Operations) Ashish Bhengra, under whose jurisdiction the BDDS functions, rejected the claims of the ex-servicemen.

“Their charges are not true. There is a committee that monitors the in-take of personnel taken on contract. There are some grievances of ex-servicemen we are looking into,” he said.

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