Is Pandemic Cause of New Spurt In CRPF Suicides in Kashmir?

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KO File Pic: Abid Bhat

Abid Bashir

Srinagar: Amid Covid-19 pandemic, suicide and fratricidal incidents among security forces especially paramilitary CRPF men have shown an upward trend in the Kashmir Valley with ban on availing leave to go home and meet families being cited one of the major reasons for suicidal tendencies among forces personnel.

On Monday morning, a CRPF personnel committed suicide by shooting himself dead with his service riffle at his unit in Pantha Chowk area of Srinagar. “An inquiry has been ordered to find out the reason that led him to take this extreme step,” a CRPF official said. Today’s incident came just three days after a CRPF man posted at a hotel in Dalgate area of Srinagar ‘accidentally’ shot himself with his service riffle. He was critically injured and is battling for life at Army’s 92 base hospital in Srinagar.

On July 6, two Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) men were killed in a fratricidal incident in a court complex in Kulgam district of south Kashmir. The duo had resorted to an argument before shooting each other dead with their service riffles. Earlier on May 12, two CRPF personnel committed suicide by shooting themselves with their service rifles in two separate incidents in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

On the same day, a CRPF Assistant Sub-Inspector, Bengali Babu, committed suicide by shooting himself with his service rifle at his 49th battalion camp in Srinagar. Furthermore, on March 21, a CRPF jawan posted outside Civil Secretariat in Srinagar, committed suicide by shooting himself dead with his service riffle.

The rise in suicide cases among CRPF personnel have, however been directly linked with the prevailing pandemic as it is evident by the suicide notes left by a couple of CRPF men who took the extreme step. A suicide note of one of the CRPF men who shot himself dead read: “I am afraid, I may be Corona positive…. Better to die.”

A senior CRPF official said that every incident is followed by an internal inquiry but one of the main reasons why “boys are taking extreme step” is that they are not able to go on leave and meet their families. “Back home, their families are worried too, which increases mental pressure for the boys on duty in Kashmir, which is a challenging place. Even though regular counselling sessions are being held for the CRPF men in the morning and evening, still the level of stress on their minds remains due to coronavirus outbreak,” he said.

Special Director General of CRPF Zulfikar Hassan said that every suicide case in the CRPF ranks has a different reason. “Remaining away from the families may be one of the reasons. Jawans haven’t been able to avail the leave facility since March. So it’s been over four months, they haven’t seen their families. We have taken steps to prevent such incidents among our men,” he said.

Asked whether the number of incidents are more this year so far compared to last year, the top CRPF officer however said that the numbers are far less than last year. “Every incident is followed by an inquiry and accordingly measures are taken,” he said. (KNO)

 

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