Army's Counter-fratricide Efforts Show Results In J-K

29 January 2009
The Indian Express

Srinagar: Perched on the mountains overlooking Army’s Corps headquarters in Srinagar are rows of white hutments. Built in serene environs these buildings are Army’s de-stressing centres equipped with latest recreational facilities and counselling centres, where troops posted on the Line of Control and militancy infested areas facing stress are counselled by the experts of the Army. These are not the only centres, there are many other centres established at unit and formation levels for the troops facing stress due to different reasons. Set up in 2002, after suicide and fratricidal cases were on rise among the forces. And six years down the line the work and proper counselling centres are showing up encouraging results. A report released by Army’s Northern Command has portrayed a better picture. Compared to 2005, when 44 cases of suicide and 10 cases of fratricide were reported in the Army in JK. Last year, there were only 34 cases of suicide and a single case of fratricide. And, this year, officials are hopeful these numbers will come further down. “Based on in depth analysis of the past incidents of suicide and fratricide cases with the forces, Army identified several windows of prevention,” Defence spokesman Army’s Northern Command, Colonel D K Kachari said. “By the efforts and proper counselling, the suicide and fratricide case are on the decline.” Kachari said the major causes of these deaths are either due to marital discord or domestic reasons besides medical problems, failed love affairs and organizational reasons. “The troops deployed in the Northern command have to withstand extremes of weather, besides, continuous vigil, and relentless counter infiltration and counter terror operations coupled these also are major causes of the stress among the soldiers.” Keeping in consideration these problems, Defence spokesman said Army took major initiatives to train the counsellors. “We have separate categories of counsellors trained by specialist and experts. And, these counsellors have been deputed at unit and formation levels and they are regularly monitoring stress management programs among the troopers,” he said, adding that the counsellors are trained to act as a friend and guide at the functional levels. Kachari said Army officers identified indicators of stress among the troops and without wasting any time took remedial measures. “So far around 1,200 troopers have been trained and deployed.” Kachari said besides practice of yoga and stress relieving techniques the counsellors give emphasis on group cohesion and constant interaction among officers, Junior Commissioned Officers, other ranks. “And this technique has worked,” he said. Kachari said various recreational facilities including multi-gyms are being provided to the units and formations. “While our efforts have substantially brought down the related incident levels, a constant effort is to be made towards creating a healthy and happy working environment and development of camaraderie,” he said.