The Army has been jolted by yet another shocking breach of discipline with a grim stand-off erupting between officers and jawans of an armoured unit after a soldier committed suicide at a military camp in the border district of Samba in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday morning.
This comes close after officers and jawans of an artillery regiment deployed in the Nyoma sub-district of eastern Ladakh had violently clashed with each other – which left the unit commanding officer, two majors and two jawans grievously injured — in May.
The incident on Wednesday was triggered when the jawan, Arun V, who hails from Thiruvananthapuram, shot himself with his service rifle in the camp of the 16th Light Cavalry at Samba in the morning. He died on the spot.
Sources said “tension” between the officers and jawans of the 16th Cavalry had been “simmering for quite some time” without any corrective steps being taken. The suicide proved to be the tipping point. “Angry jawans then ganged up to surround the officers and their residences in protest, leading to a prolonged face-off,” said a source.
The gravity of the situation and the “complete failure of command and control” was such that senior officers, including the commander of the Yol-based 9 Corps, Lt-General A K Bhalla, rushed to the spot to calm down inflamed tempers. All officers of the 16th Cavalry were subsequently moved out of their residences and attached to different messes as a precautionary move to prevent the trouble from escalating further.
There were even indications that two Army units had been rushed to Samba, which houses a brigade and the armoured regiment, to control the situation. The Army HQ in New Delhi, on being contacted, said a court of inquiry had been ordered into the incident but denied that there was any violent brawl between the officers and jawans.
“There was a suicide but no clash. Yes, the unit officers have been moved to different messes to ensure an impartial probe. The corps commander (Lt-Gen Bhalla) is camping in the area and the situation is under control,” said an officer.
All this does not happen if the case is of a simple suicide. Incidentally, defence minister A K Antony on Wednesday told Parliament that as many as 1,018 soldiers had committed suicide since 2003, with the yearly toll regularly climbing over 100. Incidents of fragging (to kill or wound a fellow soldier) have also become a regular phenomenon in the 1.13-million strong Army.
A report by the Defence Institute of Psychological Research had earlier held that “perceived humiliation and harassment, over and above occupational and familial causes”, at the hands of their superiors often serves as the final “trigger” for jawans in stress-related cases in the armed forces.
-via The Times of India.