Sukma Fratricide Not an Isolated Case: 15 Jawans Killed by Colleagues Since 2019
In the wee hours of 8 November, CRPF jawan Reetesh Ranjan gunned down four of his colleagues.
In the wee hours of Monday, 8 November, CRPF constable Reetesh Ranjan opened fire at his colleagues, killing four of them and leaving three critically injured, in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district.
Even as a probe is underway, the CRPF has called it a case of 'emotional stress leading to sudden psychological disbalance' in an official statement. However, this latest fratricide incident is hardly an isolated one.
Over the past three years, 15 jawans have lost their lives in fratricide cases in Chhattisgarh's Maoist-infested Bastar.
Bastar Has a History of Security Force Personnel Gunning Down Their Cadre
Only 10 months back, one constable Girish Kumar, who was allegedly undergoing treatment for mental instability, opened fire on his colleagues, killing constable Pramod Kumar Sari. Another soldier, Santosh Wacham, sustained injuries in the firing.
Girish was posted at CRPF's 241 Bastariya battalion in Sedwa village of Bastar district. Reportedly, Girish Kumar later tried to shoot himself.
Earlier, in May 2020, assistant platoon commander Ghanshyam Kumeti killed two of his fellow soldiers over some dispute with his service rifle AK-47.
Among the dead were platoon commander Bindeshwar Sahani, and head constable Rameshwar Sahu. One other platoon commander, Lacchuram Premi, had sustained injuries from the gunfire.
Ghanshyam Kumeti was posted at CAF’s 9th battalion’s camp at Aamdai Ghati in Narayanpur district.
In another fratricide incident that took place on 4 December, 2019, ITBP's Masudul Rahman opened fire on his troop, killing five soldiers and leaving two others injured. Masudul was posted with ITBP's 45th battalion in the Kadenar camp of Narayanpur district. Masudul, too, died in the shootout which was over an alleged dispute among the ranks.
In Bastar, cases of fratricide have become a major problem for the security forces.
In June 2019, one Sanjay Nishad from Chhattisgarh Armed Forces (CAF) shot down two fellow security personnel by a Light Machine Gun. The two CAF soldiers, Sanjay Bhaskar and Surendra Sahu, died on the spot.
Sanjay Nishad posted at Mingachal camp in Bijapur district allegedly had a spat with the two he killed.
Are the Security Camps in Bastar Unhealthy?
In June 2021, Bastar IG P Sundarraj claimed that 29 new camps have been set up in the last two-and-a-half years in Bastar. While the police firmly states that these camps have helped in pushing the Maoists to a corner, more serious questions arise on the number of fratricide and suicide cases among the security forces.
"Over the last few years, many new camps have been established in Bastar, however the quality and accessibility of basic amenities in the camps hasn't been upto the standards. Also, there has been no tower constructions in the past two-three years, and hence our jawans struggle daily to even communicate with their families."A senior police officer in Bastar
He further told The Quint, "Another major reason for such cases is the inactiveness of the troops. They have been called and stationed in Bastar but they aren't being taken into operations. The lack of any particular goal, the inactive life, scarcity of communication is eating up the soldiers from within. They are getting depressed and frustrated just sitting inside their camps in the middle of the jungle with nowhere to go and the scarce outside communication."
In June 2020, the Chhattisgarh government launched a 'Spandan Campaign' to put a check on the incidents of suicide and fratricide among the security forces in the state. The campaign ordered by the Director General of Police DM Awasthi laid down guidelines for the superintendents and commandants to strictly adhere to.
The guidelines included redressal of personal grievances, compulsory counselling and medical treatment for depressed officers. The order also laid down provisions for yoga classes in all district headquarters for police personnel.
Though the schemes and campaigns have been launched, a much thorough introspection and strategy is needed to address the issue of fratricide and suicide.
"There is a need to address the negativity due to idleness and inactivity. This will need a rigorous inspection and strategy to reach to the last member on the forces and support them in maintaining a healthy mindset," the officer added.
"There can be many reasons behind such incidents, including family issues, personal problems, and even mental problems. We are investigating today's shootout and will figure out the reasons behind this."Bastar IG P Sundarraj to the media on 8 November
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