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Three Indian soldiers commit suicide in Kashmir

4 suicides by army personnel reported in 2021, more than 35 registered in the region in 2020.

Three Indian soldiers, including a lieutenant colonel, have committed suicide in a span of 24-hours, officials said on Thursday.

Authorities said Anup Kumar, 28, posted on sentry duty at the army’s cantonment zone, Badamibagh, Srinagar, was found hanging from the ceiling. Officials said the reason he took his life is not yet known.

On Wednesday, officials said Lt. Col. Sudeep Baghat Singh ended his life by shooting himself at an army depot in Khonmoh, located on the outskirts of the Muslim-dominated capital. Another 24-year-old soldier shot himself at an army camp in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district.

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“Both of these soldiers had died before reaching to hospital,” said officials.

An army major also committed suicide by shooting himself on Jan. 18 in North Kashmir’s frontier district, Kupwara. That brings the number of suicide deaths in the army in 2021 to four.

As per official sources, more than 35 soldiers stationed in the Jammu and Kashmir region committed suicide in 2020. The reasons behind the suicides are not known.

Rising cases and Kashmir conflict

Indian Minister of State for Defense Shripad Naik informed the Lower House, Lok Sabha, last March that in 2019 there were 95 cases of suicide among army, navy and air force personnel. The most were reported by the army, with 73.

In 2018, there were 107 cases, while in 2017, 103 were reported.

Experts cite the increasing numbers are because of possible institutional deficiencies and workplace ill-treatment leading to stress and trauma which ultimately leads to suicidal deaths.

It is also averred by experts that suicidal tendencies amongst military members ]were high in combat zones, particularly in Kashmir which is sparked by poor leadership, callous attitude of seniors and the denial of leave for long hauls, even when there was an emergency.

A former army head in the Kashmir region told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity that there are many factors involved in the issue. One is the distance from families for longer times.

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“Then there are work pressures, unadaptation, different backgrounds of people, institutional deficiencies, less leave sanctions or personal health like suffering from any diseases which lead to the growth of suicidal tendencies,” the officer said.

The officer said to overcome suicides we need to strengthen institutional and structural responses with a focus on counseling, therapeutic remedies or other forms of remedies.

Army Col. K. C. Dixit in a 2009 study makes an interesting observation related to low-intensity conflict operations witnessed in the Kashmir region.

“Such operations are characterised by limitations of armaments, tactics and levels of force applied. The troops trained in conventional warfare experience significant stress in low-intensity conflict operations. In such operations, the security forces end up fighting an elusive enemy (in the absence of reliable intelligence) and have to face active resentment of the local population. Ambiguity of aim, lack of visible success and high casualty rates tend to erode morale among security forces,” wrote Dixit.

Read more: We need to talk about suicide in the military

Another study in 2019-2020 by the United Service Institution of India (USI), a service think-tank, came to similar conclusions.

According to one of its findings, there has been a significant increase in stress amongst army personnel in the last two decades owing to operational and non-operational stressors.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk