There has been a sharp rise in suicides in the Army and other para-military forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir and a recent research carried by a leading sociologist of the valley has revealed that 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers have committed suicide in the last two decades.
The research by Prof Bashir Ahmad Dabla, head of the Sociology department of Kashmir University, says that a majority of the soldiers who committed suicides were married.
While there has been no exact number of total suicides in the state available as no official survey has been carried out in this regard, unofficial estimates vary from 7,000 to 20,000 in 20 years. However, Prof Dabla’s research carried out from 2009-2011 said armed forces share of suicides was around 2,000 cases.
“Since official records in this regard have remained confidential, the authentic figures and credible estimates are not possible easily. However, the relevant information from the local press suggests the number could be close to 2,000,” he told Deccan Herald.
The suicides, Prof Dabla said, were committed by personnel of the Army, soldiers from BSF, CRPF, ITBP and CISF and they belonged to all regions of the country. “However, there was a slightly higher number of suicides from the south Indian states,” he added. The common method of suicides, the research reveals, was shooting oneself with service rifle.
“In certain such cases, the person committing suicide not only shoot himself but also killed his colleagues and senior officers also,” it added.
One of the reasons of suicides in armed forces, the research says “was denial on the part of authorities to sanction leave.”
“The second apparent reason reported in the press was that they often felt depressed and tension after counter insurgency operations which involved abuse, excesses, atrocities and violation of basic human rights against civilians.”
The third reason, the researcher found was that despite harsh and unbearable conditions in Jammu and Kashmir, the armed forces were not provided all necessary facilities needed for their safety and security.
“The fourth apparent reason reported was the verbal inter-personal altercation between various members of the armed forces on material and non-material issues which often led to the attempt of committing suicides,” the research added.
Probes kept secret
While all the cases of suicides in Jammu and Kashmir have been investigated officially, the research says all reports were kept confidential and not released.
“A scientific, professional and comprehensive study/survey of suicides in the armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir must be carried out immediately. The necessary records must be made available to identify the trend and direction of the suicides,” Prof Dabla demanded.
A senior army official wishing anonymity said that the army is losing more soldiers due to suicides than in action.
“There is need to strengthen formal and informal interaction between soldiers and officers. Leave policy, especially for soldiers posted in difficult areas, should be liberalised so that a soldier can go home to sort out his domestic problems,” he said.
-via Deccan Herald.