Written reply in Rajya Sabha underscored the need to maintain the reforms within the forces
Ministry of Defence on Monday informed Parliament that nearly 800 soldiers died by suicide since 2014 in the three services besides 20 cases of fratricide. Giving details, the Ministry said while the Indian Army recorded 591 cases, the IAF (Indian Air Force) reported 160 while the Indian Navy saw 36 in the last seven years. This written reply in the Rajya Sabha underscored the need to maintain the reforms within the armed forces to evolve an ethos wherein such incidents come down immediately.
The Defence forces had taken several measures some years back when cases of fratricide wherein soldiers killing their superiors and colleagues and suicides saw a spike. The steps included more relaxed leave norms to allow soldiers to attend to their families in far-flung villages, stress management in insurgency and terrorism hit areas and regular interaction with senior officers.
Here the question raises on the attitude of officers handling the grievances and request for leave from the soldiers.
Given the make-up of the armed forces with soldiers coming mostly from a rural background, the Defence forces also urged the local administration of their villages to attend to their cases of dispute if any with empathy and speed.
According to many internal studies of the forces, many soldiers go through emotional trauma related to domestic issues while staying in camps on official duty. They might be losing concentration due to domestic issues, problems in the family and wanted to get leave to join the family to settle issues. They get annoyed and lose temper when they were not granted leave from duty which leads to anger against superior officers. Many studies stressed the demand for a humane approach and psychological counselling in camps to distress the soldiers.
Similar is the case of suicides in paramilitary forces like CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force), BSF (Border Security Force) etc. Union Home Ministry in the previous year informed Parliament that in 2019 alone 128 soldiers committed suicide from central paramilitary forces. The reasons were the same as per the studies of the Military on the paramilitary persons living in camps distancing from families.
Here the question raises on the attitude of officers handling the grievances and request for leave from the soldiers. Not only the soldiers to be given psychological counselling, but their officers must also be given counselling to adopt a humane approach to the distressed soldiers.
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