On May 6, 2018, an article was written in the Sunday Express titled “Death of a jawan”. It was a well-researched, eye-opening narrative of the extreme conditions faced by the soldiers of the Central Paramilitary Forces. It revealed one of the darkest truths about the stress faced by the jawans living in the toughest of terrains, besides being posted in regions prone to violence.
Last month, the Ministry of Home Affairs told the Parliamentary Committee on Estimates that nearly 700 security personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) had committed suicide over the past six years. This number is higher than the number of soldiers killed in action during the same time.
The CAPF includes the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Force (ITBF), the Sashatra Seema Bal (SSB) and Assam Rifles.
In the article, Rahul Tripathi enlisted the conditions and reasons responsible for such a step being taken by the soldiers. Living away from homes for most of their lives, and not able to meet their family members frequently – these seem to the prime reasons behind the jawans’ situation. In most of the cases, the soldiers committed suicide after coming back from their homes to join duty, due to homesickness. If one were to think about it, this is indeed true – our soldiers are posted in some of the marked ‘stress zones’ of country, where nothing is sure about a person’s life. After all, it is very rare that they would be posted in peaceful regions in most of their postings.
The two other main reasons behind the suicides are family problems and financial problems (in most cases, indebtedness) which is forcing these soldiers to take this drastic step of ending their own lives.
This issue at hand is really a serious one. The government ought to look into this matter properly and take the requisite steps. The officials are taking measures for reducing the stress level by providing counselling facilities to the jawans. New studio apartments are also being made where newly-wed soldiers can live for a couple of weeks with their spouses. However, their holiday/vacation period is only restricted to one or two months in a year. During the rest of the year, they have to be on duty. The government also needs to take some measures to improve their living conditions, as a number of the cases of suicides are due to the unbearable conditions in which they are posted.
Indeed, it’s a very sad situation. Every day, we hear news of soldiers being attacked and killed, but we never reflect too much on the issue of soldiers taking their own lives. We are protected by them, but no one is there to protect them from loneliness, depression and the high levels of stress they face. A positive environment needs to be created to ease up their minds. Regarding this, the CAPFs are taking different innovative measures to help their soldiers, as these incidents certainly shouldn’t continue for long.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.