Cases of suicide and fratricide are going up by the year in the Central Armed Police Forces. A Task Force appointed by the Union Home Ministry has found the triggers include issues related to humiliation, harassment and leave-related concern.
Looking into the instances of suicides and fratricides in the CAPF and Assam Rifles, the Task Force found the jawans are under increasing stress. Officials said the draft report also counts tough service conditions, criticism, humiliation at workplace and access to weapons among the key reasons for deaths.
Data from the ministry indicates that 1,205 jawans have committed suicide over the last 10 years -- 125 a year on average. The number has increased over the last five years. In 2018, 97 soldiers committed suicide. The figure was 133 in 2019, 149 in 2020. The figure for 2021 is 153.
"The effect of stress is more on jawans who are continuously working in high-intensity duties," said a senior official of the Union Home Ministry.
The pattern of workload has changed in the last 10 years, he said. An example, he said, would be election duties.
Every year, elections are being held and a bigger force is sent each year, which is adding to the burden. But there is no corresponding rise in the strength of the forces, so the same jawans are being sent from one sensitive location to another.
"Jawans don't get time even for training as they get engaged for at least three to four months in one election," he said.
On Tuesday, the CRPF (Central Reserved Police Forces) advertised seeking a psychologist to deal with officers entrusted with VIP duties. A senior CRPF official said the recent killing of an Orissa minister by his guard and the suicide of an Assistant Sub-Inspector posted at the residence of Director Intelligence Bureau Tapan Deka had triggered the move.
"Mental health parameters of commandos involved in VIP security units would be analysed," he said.
The CRPF is not the only force which is dealing with such cases. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police or ITBP, too, has been conducting workshops for its personnel.
One such programme is Nischay, conducted through video-conference by experts. According to him many times "durbars" (townhalls) are also organised and the buddy system is also promoted within force.
"But the way heavy duties have become routine, many issues are remaining unsolved," said an ITMP personnel.
Most of the jawans NDTV spoke to, said there are few cases of suicide or fratricide in NSG and NDRF because regimentation is followed and even work culture is different. "The jawans in these forces live together on campus and talk to each other, which lowers the stress level," a jawan said.
The government, he suggested, needs to address these issues. "If even after such hardcore training, men in uniform are taking such extreme steps, then there is a cause which needs to be addressed urgently," another said.
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