India Losing Its Warriors To Suicide

Approximately 1,020 soldiers have committed suicide since 2003.

NEW DELHI – The number of soldiers being killed in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the north-east has been increasingly declining over the last ten years with the Army achieving a much better ‘kill ratio’ against the militants. But, the suicide and fragging (to kill a fellow soldier) cases continue to remain very high. Approximately 1,020 soldiers have committed suicide since 2003, as reported by Rajat Pandit for TNN.

India has lost close to 4,000 soldiers in counterinsurgency operations as well as in manning in high-altitude areas like Siachen in the past 12 years. Besides, over 100 soldiers continue to commit suicide every year.

Defence minister A K Antony, in a written reply in Lok Sabha has said that while 530 soldiers were martyred during Operation Vijay in 1999, another 3,987 have been killed between 2000 and 2012. Antony revealed the figures and said while 96 soldiers had committed suicide in 2009, the figures were 115 in 2010, 102 in the year 2011 and 81 so far this year.

It was seen that the clash between officers and jawans of an armoured corps unit at Samba in J&K was set off after a solider had committed suicide in August this year.

While, in another incident in eastern Ladakh’s Nyoma sector in May, a violent quarrel broke out between officers and jawans of the 226 Field Artillery Regiment, leaving the unit commanding officer, two majors and two jawans hospitalized with bruises, fractures, and other injuries.

These ugly face-offs between officers and jawans are a clear indicator of the declining discipline and standards of leadership in the Army. Jawans are retaliating to the humiliation by their officers, and the stressful working conditions in the force.

Further, 25,063 soldiers have also advanced on pre-mature retirement during the last three years. Antony said “However, reasons for seeking pre-mature retirement cannot be attributed to stressful working environment,” as reported by TOI. He added that government had been continuously taking steps to decrease stress among soldiers after undertaking a number of studies.

But it’s time that instead of these slow steps, revamping existing mechanisms should be adopted in order to deal with stress and other problems faced by soldiers.

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