Stress amongst paramilitary organization once again leads to casualty

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In yet another case of fratricidal firing in Jammu and Kashmir, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)  trooper shot dead three colleagues and then shot and seriously wounded himself in Udhampur district in Jammu and Kashmir. The incident occurred around 10:40 pm on March 20, 2019. Although the investigating Police personnel stated that what triggered the heated argument was not known in the preliminary investigation.

The CRPF Constable Ajit Singh opened fire at Head Constables Umeed Singh, Yogendra Sharma and Pokarmal inside their camp in Battal Ballian area at night after a heated exchange of words, killing all three, he then turned his gun on himself, but only succeeded in injuring himself.

Ajit Singh belongs to Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur, while Umeed Singh belonged to Haryana’s Rewari, Sharma to Delhi and Pokarmal to Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu.

The official sources stated that such sporadic incidents of fratricidal firing have been seen among security forces, especially among those personnel posted in conflict zones like Jammu and Kashmir or Maoist-hit areas. Security forces have in the past engaged counsellors to address the problem which have been attributed to long duty hours in hostile environment, separation from families, lack of recreational activities and a weak command and control structure.

It was also suggested that with better command and control, frequent leave facilities to join families and adequate recreational facilities are some of the remedial measures suggested by counsellors to address the problem, but due to the Red-tapeism, and the bureaucratic attitude, the issues were still under processes and being buried under pile of files.

It may be recalled that, Minister of State (MoS) for Defence Subhash Bhamre acknowledged that stress-related manifestations among soldiers is on the rise and emphasized the need for good selection and training process.

Bhamre also agrees that there is a need to take adequate steps to counter this problem. With rapid pace of technological advancement and information warfare gaining strength day by day, these factors are taking a heavy toll on the human element.

The situation arises as insurgency, terrorism and fundamentalism are the threats that an Indian soldier faces within the country. Handling adversities from within is a big issue. To select, train and sustain the military in such a hostile environment needs good selection, training and nurturing.

The MoS only managed to identify that beginning from selection stage, care is to be taken. It is true that the recruitment for defence or even state police has always attracted huge participation, but most of the candidates are being rejected with various reasons and it is most painful to note that the candidates selected need not go through such grilling from running to personal interview because of political backing. In most cases, such candidates who are selected by unfair means never expected that they have to face the challenges of a disciplined force.

Stress also arises due to the place of posting, where most of the soldiers remain away from their family members for months, which at times turns into years, with very minimal facilities while braving snow, deserts and bullets. Such stress may even turn into depression for many.

Bhamre informed that it is a matter of pride that recruits for India’s armed forces, the world’s third largest, also means the common citizen are not opposing the forces, the assessment system, methodologies, techniques and tests developed by the DIPR are being used by 20 Services Selection Boards across the country.

Bhamre had already pointed out that due to the selection procedures, some the candidates are not mentally strong enough to face the challenges, as they are not meant to be in the force, but due to backing they have blocked the seat which they have not earned by merit.

As Prime Minister, Narendra Damodardas Modi on November 8, 2016 scraped all Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency note as a surgical strike against black money, mainly aiming at terrorism, unaccounted cash and counterfeit notes by replacing a newly printed currency, can the Defence Ministry have a similar political will and do the same by terminating all such backdoor appointed candidates to pave the way for the deserving youth to strengthen the man power of the force, ultimately boosting the moral of the soldiers?

Bhamre also said that the threats that an Indian soldier faces within the country includes moles placed in the defence. Within the country, there are also some internal extremists, who are making all efforts to destabilize the progress and development. Politician nexus with militants is one of the core issues which has severely affected the nation’s security due to the home grown militant activities, while no one from the political parties is making any effort to change the mindset of the people for their own political gain.

Surprisingly such are the people who can easily make it to the legislative assembly and even Parliament as law makers, having this mindset and thereby putting national security at stake for their individual benefit as representatives, at the same time to fulfil the mandate, they keep pumping in their own candidates into the force, further compounding the problem.

The aspirant politicians simply jump into the fray either to carry on the torch of dynasty politics while another section takes politics as an extension of their personal popularity, expansion of business and contracts. Worst is the section that jumps into the fray for political vengeance, either to carry out political vendettas or religious eminence, leaving no more room for a legislative body with vision and mission for a better India.