CRPF turns to Baba Ramdev to check suicides, fratricides

April 28th, 2008 - 8:55 pm ICT by admin  

By Sahil Makkar
New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) Grappling with an increasing number of suicides and fratricides among its troopers, the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has now turned to yoga guru Baba Ramdev for help. “The rise in suicides and killings is alarming. So, we have now decided to send 800 of our personnel to Baba Ramdev’s camp in Haridwar to learn yoga. This would help them de-stress,” CRPF Director General V.K. Joshi told IANS.

The troopers will head to the yoga guru’s ashram next month.

“These personnel, after training, would later teach yoga to their colleagues so that everyone can benefit,” Joshi said.

The CRPF recorded 44 cases of suicide in 2007, compared to 30 in 2006 and 19 in 2005. Ten fratricides have already taken place this year, compared to equal number in the whole of 2007.

The latest incident took place April 21. CRPF constable Virender Singh, who was deployed near the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir, shot and critically injured his company commander and a fellow colleague before committing suicide.

Singh had a verbal duel with company commander Inspector Sanoop following which he opened fire at him and another colleague, Parvin Kumar.

“Such cases are worrying. The senior officials must open a line of communication with their juniors and solve their problems at the earliest. We are working on this issue on a war footing,” said Joshi, who also holds additional charge of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

“We have directed supervisory commandants, company commanders and other senior officials to be in touch with soldiers at the grassroots to find out effective ways to ease stress and tension,” he added.

The CRPF, which is responsible for maintaining internal security, has 201 battalions with 260,000 troopers and officials.

The force has deployed 72 battalions, around 40 percent of the force, to quell insurgency and maintain law and order in Jammu and Kashmir, while 32 battalions are in Maoist-affected states - Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa.

The main causes of suicides and shootouts among the security forces are long duty hours, long periods of separation from families, and not being granted leave due to them. All of these leads to high levels of stress, a senior official said, declining to be named.

Most security personnel get a month’s annual leave, but they are not always able to avail of it. The weekly breaks are not of much use either as they are often just cooped up in their camps, he added.

At times, the personnel don’t even get a short leave when they need it. They are expected to maintain discipline all the time, and this leads to bottled-up tension that can prove dangerous, the officer explained.

Alcohol dependence and neurotic depression are also among the reasons behind suicides, he pointed out.

A few months ago, the paramilitary force launched a new project called Sanjeevani to counsel their personnel and their wives together on ways to reduce stress.

“The new project, under which the wives of jawans (troopers) also get training along with their husbands, is still in a nascent stage and no one should expect immediate results. Such things take time,” the official said.

Troopers’ wives were included in the training because they also suffer huge mental trauma when their husbands are away at the battlefront. Stress levels among them remain very high, which sometimes make their husbands also more anxious, he added.

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