With another face-off between the Army officers and jawans sparking concerns in the security and political establishment, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said such incidents should not be “blown out of proportion”.
Defence Minister A K Antony has sought a report on the Wednesday’s incident in the 16th Cavalry Regiment posted at Samba in Jammu and Kashmir, when jawans surrounded the residences of unit officers following the suicide of one their colleagues in the morning.
Requesting the Parliament not to have a discussion on the issue, the Prime Minister said: “It is a small incident that is being blown out of proportion. Doing so is not good for the morale of our armed forces.”
In May, a clash between the Army officers and jawans at Nyoma in Ladakh had left a Commanding Officer, two Majors and two jawans injured. The Army had then dismissed the incident as a “minor scuffle”. The CoI into the incident is still pending.
Sources said the situation in the armoured unit at Samba could have “spiralled” out of control just like the Ladakh incident, if immediate measures were not taken.
The latest incident occurred when Arun V, a jawan hailing from Thiruvananthapuram, shot self with his service rifle. Prima facie reports showed Arun was
facing some issues back home and had asked for leave, which the officers denied. After his death, angry jawans surrounded the residences of officers for a few hours, before the situation was brought under control.
The officers were moved out of their residences for some time as a precautionary measure. “There was a suicide, but no clash. The unit officers were moved to different messes to ensure an impartial probe. They have now returned to their residences,” an Army official said. On Wednesday, the Defence Minister had informed the Parliament that 1,018 soldiers committed suicide since 2003, with the numbers going up every year.
A report by the Defence Institute of Psychological Research had held that “perceived humiliation and harassment and occupational and familial causes” triggered suicidal tendencies in many jawans.