It seems cases of suicide and fratricide are posing a bigger threat to the security forces than militants in the country. According to the latest statistics, more security personnel have died in such incidents than in militant attacks since January this year.
In response to an RTI filed by Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies, a non-governmental organisation, 24 jawans have killed themselves either by suicide or fratricide as compared to 15 killed in encounters with the terrorists across J&K.
The security establishment is finding it hard to tackle this menace despite several measures to reduce incidents of suicide and fratricide. As the Valley is heading for normalcy and peace, strategists find the trend alarming.
Experts believe that prolonged deployment in counter-insurgency operations in J&K and North-East takes a heavy toll on the physical endurance and mental health of soldiers. "Such factors are compounded by poor salaries, lack of basic amenities, ineffectual leadership and humiliation by their senior officers. These are one of the main reasons for frequent cases of face-off between the soldiers and officers,"said an officer.
Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR) has conducted various studies on the stress levels among army jawans posted in the counter-insurgency operations and recommended comprehensive measures to to tackle such cases.
"Soldiers posted in far-flung areas undergo tremendous mental stress for not being able to take care of the problems facing their families back home such as marital and financial problems. Various workshops and programmes are being conducted regularly to de-stress jawans and officers posted in counter-insurgency operations," the officer added.
In 2014, 10 armymen, including a junior commissioned officer, two BSF men and five CRPF personnel, committed suicide, the RTI query revealed.
On 27 February, a soldier of Rashtriya Rifles shot dead five of his colleagues at point blank range when they were sleeping before committing suicide in J&K's Ganderbal district
On May 25, three army jawans were killed when a soldier fired indiscriminately on his colleagues before shooting himself at a forward post along Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir
Surprisingly, all the soldiers who died in fratricidal incidents were armymen. Out of seven incidents of fratricides, five have happened in militancy-prone areas while two fratricides that happened at the Line of Control led to an altercation between the army units.