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By Simon Wright
A Rifles recruit has told how he was forced out of the Army after bullying pushed him to two suicide attempts.
Indian-born Manjit Singh, 22, claims he was assaulted and labelled “terrorist and suicide bomber” in a vicious campaign of harassment by fellow soldiers.
Manjit, a Sikh whose grandfather died fighting for Britain in World War II, says his complaints to senior officers were ignored. He ended up in a psychiatric hospital and was discharged. Manjit – who is now facing deportation – said he was singled out the moment he arrived at 5 Rifles’ German operating base in Paderborn, Germany, last September.
“First my duvet was stolen,” he said. “Then they covered my bed in sugar, tea and coffee. Next they urinated on my bed then they ransacked my room.
“Then the racist abuse started. They started to call me ‘Taliban’, ‘terrorist’ and ‘suicide bomber’. One day I was assaulted by three of them. They slapped me around the face and pushed me into furniture and against the walls.” Manjit filed a formal complaint and was sent to a psychiatrist. He took a few weeks’ leave but when he returned to barracks nothing had changed. On March 13 Manjit attempted suicide with painkillers.
After three months in a psychiatric hospital he returned to normal duties but admits turning to drink. “It became my only release,” he says. “I’d never drunk before but now it was all I thought about.”
In June he suffered an alcohol-induced breakdown and was re-admitted to the psychiatric hospital and put on anti-depressants. Last month he attempted suicide again and spent three weeks in hospital. When he returned to barracks he was administratively discharged and told he must return to India in 28 days.
Manjit is now being supported by the Service Complaints Commissioner, who has written to the Commanding Officer of 5 Rifles demanding a full investigation into his treatment. He is also being helped by the Veterans’ Welfare Service and armed forces welfare charity At Ease.