RAIPUR: Often, security forces posted in Bastar, south Chhattisgarh, undergo extreme mental stress. Recent incidents of fratricides and suicides by security personnel are proof of that.
Now, the state government has decided to set a specialised counselling and consulting unit at Jagdalpur — the divisional headquarters in Bastar division. The unit will offer psycho-social counselling and support for the security forces in collaboration with Bangalore-based National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS).
In 2012, four CRPF jawans were killed by their colleague at Aranpur. In 2017, a CRPF jawan opened fire at Basaguda camp in Bijapur killing three superiors and a constable. Reports of security personnel committing suicide in the strife-torn regions too are high. Figures on suicide in Bastar couldn’t be accessed despite repeated requests to the authorities.
Psychotherapists said these incidents are the fallout of high stress in Bastar, which the Maoists have turned into a prolonged battle zone.
A MoU has been signed between the Chhattisgarh government and NIMHANS. Besides providing technical support to the department of health and family welfare in strengthening mental health services and capacity building, NIMHANS will also help in research and surveillance activities.
“NIMHANS will support setting up of a full-fledged mental well-being counselling unit and conduct activities for psychological support for the men in uniform at Jagdalpur and other areas of the state. They will support telementoring and tele-clinics in the Bastar division,” said Dr Sumi Jain, state programme coordinator (non-communicable disease).
Counsellors will be recruited and deputed for the paramilitary forces. They will carry out the outreach services to base camps.
“Training will be given to some soldiers in the paramilitary forces in Bastar to identify those who show early symptoms. There will be three kinds of interventions on stress management, to identify suicidal tendency among others. These things would be done in collaboration with NIMHANS,” Dr Jain added.
Welcoming the initiative, Bastar zone inspector general of police Vivekanand Sinha said, “Continued deployment in conflict-ridden areas, where enemies can’t be easily identified, at times take a mental toll,” Sinha said.