NEW DELHI: In what may be a serious indicator of pent-up emotional stress among Central para-military personnel leading to dangerous consequences, as many as 18 CRPF personnel were killed in 13 fratricide incidents over the past four years. According to a CRPF official, six CRPF personnel have lost their life so far this year in 5 incidents of fratricide, as compared to a total 10 personnel killed in 3 fratricidal acts each in 2019 and 2020 and 2 killed in as many fratricide cases in 2018.
The officer said a court of inquiry goes into the reasons behind each incident of fratricide, followed by remedial measures. In almost all cases, the jawan responsible for the fratricidal killings is dismissed from service. “This is because an act of fratricide cannot be justified in any way, whatever may have been the provocation,” an officer said. On the other hand, the victims’ families get ex–gratia compensation, family pension and, as far as possible, a job for the next of kin on compassionate grounds.
Stating that the cases of fratricides and suicides in CRPF are a matter of deep concern, a senior officer told TOI that a host of remedial measures have been taken or are being brainstormed to deal with stress among the jawans. “Studies have found that due to the regimental nature of the forces, many jawans feel constrained by discipline to share their mental problems and anxiety, which in extreme cases may push them to psychological imbalance. Hence CRPF DG Kuldiep Singh has been stressing that seniors should address this problem by opening all lines of communication, even doing a chaupal-like gathering where the jawans can air their concerns without inhibition and find redressal,” said an officer.
Also, professional counsellors (civilians) are being hired for lending an ear to the jawans in difficult theatres like J&K and Left-wing extremism-hit areas, in addition to the 1-2 doctors serving each company. Also, there is a suggestion to post a “buddy” with a jawan with known signs of depression or high stress levels.
A source said that CRPF Jawan Reetesh Ranjan — who in an apparent fit of rage early on Monday fired upon his colleagues at their camp in Sukma, Chhattisgarh, killing four and injuring three others — is not revealing much to the local police yet about what drove him to kill. He is not showing any signs of remorse either, said an officer. Reetesh is said to have deleted his phone chats from two days before his death. The police may try to recover the chat history to get clues into the motive behind the fratricide. A CRPF official told TOI that Ranjan was to proceed on leave on November 13, ahead of joining his transfer posting in Jammu & Kashmir. Interestingly, there is no past history of any altercation with colleagues or erratic behaviour by Reetesh.
While a inquiry has been ordered by CRPF to assess the reasons behind the fratricide incident and initiate remedial measures, a CRPF official revealed that most of the suicides in the force — also linked to emotional stress and psychological imbalance, caused largely by problems at home or family issues — take place just before the victim is to proceed on leave or has come back from leave. “Like in Kashmir, a personnel committed suicide on Monday despite his senior having counselled him for an hour. He was under stress due to some marital discord. He was fine but at night relapsed into depression and ultimately committed suicide,” a CRPF officer said adding that this has made the force reiterate its suggestion that a “buddy” or fellow jawan may be posted to be with a “depressed or stressed officer with possible suicidal tendencies.”

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By Bhushan K

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