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Suicides in the forces on rise

Thursday - February 7, 2019 5:35 am , Category : WTN SPECIAL

WTN: Suicides by the armed forces personnel, para-military men and the police are not a new phenomenon. We laud our soldiers when they fight for us and guard our borders in minus 40 degrees, but we don’t shed tears when they shoot themselves in the head, buckling under the pressure of life and profession. 

The high number of deaths in the forces due to fratricidal killings and suicides and how to check such unnatural deaths due to stress and how to motivate them to continue in their services has been a matter of concern for quite long.

Anywhere between 150 and 200 army and/or para-military men commit suicide or die in fratricide incidents every year, which is more than the number killed in action fighting terrorists. The forces have a very regimented and structured command system which is why the issues of the lower rung staffers hardly reach the higher-ups. This increases the frustration of these men who don’t find an apt outlet to air their grudges accruing due to the high pressure job. Never ever efforts have been made by the defence or home ministry to institutionalise any channel of communication between the cadre officers and the men down in the hierarchy to get the things out from the horse's mouth.

Until this is done the top brasses of these forces will keep the ministry in dark and misguided. Work and lifestyle-related stress and frustration are proving to be fatal for paramilitary troops as well as the police. The mental state of the security personnel needs to be understood by their bosses and policy-makers and, accordingly, they should make stress management therapy compulsory at all levels. The authorities should also make effort to simplify the relationship between lower-level jawans and their seniors and bosses. The jawan’s duty hours are long and unscheduled. He lives away from family for years in wild terrains among alien people. He has no one to share his sorrows and grievances. Life is on tenterhooks. Recreation facilities are limited.

He stands in the sun and the rain in thirst and hunger for 12 hours a day, guarding the residence of a minister or a collector and their families, while his own family lives in some remote village in squalor.  The jawan doesn’t get leaves easily, more because of the whims of bosses. Feudal hierarchy in the defence set up is strong. The lower rung staffers are maltreated by the arrogant higher-ups. Many have to wash officers’ dishes and mop his rooms. Too much discipline robs the soldier of his human spirit, he becomes a machine and one day his organic bearings revolt against the fettered life.

All their life they protect others, and when they need solace and support, there is none. The police are no better. Most have to do with obsolete equipment. On the one side there is professional pressure to perform and on the other there is the pressure of the minister to comply. Departments are understaffed. Police modernisation is a long-lost cause. For all ills in society we blame the police, but their compulsions and frustrations go unheeded.

Our cops and jawans need more money for their families, more recreational activities to be in good humour, many more avenues of self-exploration, so that from the machine facsimile, they flower into more holistic and wholesome human beings; they need an effective grievance redressal system where they can democratically vent their ire and get justice. The officers need to be friendlier towards the despondent soldiers as an abrasive approach can push them to the brink.-Window To News

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