Even as another soldier took his life on Thursday, Army chief General Bikram Singh said the recent cases of suicide and stand-offs between officers and jawans were “isolated incidents” in the 1.13-million strong force.
Asked about the ugly face-off between officers and jawans of an armoured corps unit at Samba in J&K after a soldier committed suicide on August 8, Gen Singh said, “We have instituted two separate courts of inquiry. There was no connection between the suicide and the incident.”
“Let me tell you that the situation is not that bad… these are isolated incidents. As far as the atmosphere in battalions is concerned, we are looking into them and trying to correct them. We have been trying to address these issues,” he said. “I have been addressing the troops and officers, and I will be going to Siachen (and eastern Ladakh) tomorrow and there also, I will do the same thing.”
The remarks came even as another soldier, Bhup Singh of the 72nd Armoured Regiment, committed suicide at his unit residential quarter in Hisar. “He hanged himself from the ceiling fan after his wife left to drop their two children to school at about 7.30 am,” said an officer.
As many as 1,018 soldiers have committed suicide since 2003, with the yearly toll regularly crossing the 100-mark every year, as reported by TOI earlier. Three face-offs between officers and jawans have also been reported in the Army over the last one year.
Among them was the one in Nyoma sector of eastern Ladakh in May that ended in a violent clash between officers and jawans of the 226 Field Artillery Regiment, leaving the unit commanding officer, two majors and two jawans hospitalized with limb fractures, bruises and other injuries. The three incidents are a clear indicator of the declining standards of leadership and discipline in the Army, where jawans are no longer willing to be humiliated by their officers.
“The feudal culture which still persists in the Army is causing the problem. While the educational levels and aspirations of jawans has gone up, there is still too much disparity between them and the officers in terms of accommodation, salary and other perks,” admitted a senior officer.
In fact, a parliamentary report had even castigated the defence ministry for failing to deal with the malaise of stress-related deaths in the Army. It had called for a total revamp of the existing mechanisms to deal with stress and other problems faced by soldiers.
-via The Times of India.