This was the first public acknowledgement of the growing worry over fraying of the officer-jawan ties in the world’s second largest standing army, and came on a day when the defence minister brainstormed — for the second time in three days — the incidents with the Army chief General Bikram Singh.
There have been at least three incidents of standoff between Army officers and jawans in recent months. The latest was at Samba in Jammu and Kashmir, where a tense face-off went on for hours between the jawans and the officers of 16 Cavalry after a jawan committed suicide on Wednesday. In May, a violent incident took place between the officers and the jawans of 226 artillery regiment in Ladakh, while in June last year there was a similar incident in the 45 Cavalry unit in Punjab.
“Each incident is a matter of concern to me but armed forces are better trained to handle such situations. They are handling it in their own way. Today also I had a brief discussion with the Army chief and they are handling it,” Antony said.
While the government is not particularly alarmed by the incidents, there is concern at the highest levels that such issues do not become a trend in the Army. A senior official said that efforts are on to improve welfare and dignity of soldiers as part of the larger goal to modernize the Army.
Asked about suicides in the Army, the defence minister said, “Compared to the past, the number of suicides and fratricides in armed forces are slightly reduced.” He claimed that over the years, they have been able to reduce suicide rate gradually.
-via The Times of India.