News: A task force formed to look into the reasons behind the suicides and fratricides in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).

Recently, a task force formed to look into the reasons behind the suicides and fratricides in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs). The task force, constituted by the MHA to study and analyse incidents and prepare a comprehensive report, has found some of the important reasons for service conditions.

Challenges faced by security personnel:

Shortage of manpower: It increases the workload on existing personnel. It is found that Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) jawans have to do continuous duty for 15-18 hours.
sahayak/buddy system: A paramilitary soldier was against the sahayak or orderly system is a colonial practice where soldiers were forced to do personal chores for senior officers of the force.
Poor Infrastructure: Poor working conditions like no housing facilities, poor food and low allowances adds to problems.
Lack of co-ordination: Most positions are occupied by IPS officers who lead to a low morale that translates into low efficiency.
Lack of Transparency: Promotion system lacks a proper path and set indicators to identify the deserving candidate.
Devoid of Justice: There is an absence of a dedicated grievance redressal system and often they are devoid of justice. The Armed forces tribunal does not cover them. Even Article 33 deters them from approaching the civilian judiciary.
No Timely Recognition: Till lately gallantry awards such as Paramvir Chakra, Shaurya Chakra and Kirti Chakra were reserved only for the armed forces. Government does not accord them the status of a martyr.
Scarce revival of family bonding: Prolonged separation from the families, in an increasingly unsafe and leads to mentally polarised.

Government initiatives:

● Improved dispute resolution, communication facility in field areas, yoga etc. have been introduced by the government.
● Increased communication between jawans and officers were part of measures given by the government to boost morale.
● Using platforms like Chintan Shivirs which is an important platform for Indian Police Service officers working in all forces to share their experiences and prepare future strategies by pondering over the solutions of the challenges in front.

Causes for suicides:

● Some of the important reasons for service conditions such as trauma of being abused, bullying at the workplace, leave-related problems, extended working hours, and inadequate time for rest.
● Some common challenges are associated with combat zones are insomnia, agitation, and nightmares, which are considered to be one of the important contributors to suicidality.
● The task force has also found some of the key reasons for working conditions are prolonged deployment in high-risk areas, long separation from families/forced bachelorship, and tough duty hours inhospitable.
● Mental health-related issues are still taboo in the forces as well as in society. In security forces, especially not only the apprehension of being mocked, and taunted as weak, and worthless, but also a fear of losing jobs persists due to it.
● As a result, personnel facing the same issues usually don’t open up and share it with their seniors or colleagues.
● Mental health-related issues are still “taboos” in the security forces, and the personnel hesitate to share their problems because of the fear of being mocked and taunted as weak by other colleagues.

Measures could be brought:

● As per the task force’s recommendation, there should be a provision for mental health screening of all the CAPF personnel, returning from leave or other long-term duties through a questionnaire.
● More numbers need to be recruited to reduce the lengthy working hours.
● Timely career promotion and martyr status should be considered.
● Need of a separate grievance redressal mechanism and a separate tribunal for paramilitary forces.
● Hard area allowance should be exclusively decided on the basis of climatic and geographical conditions of the area of deployment and should be uniform for personnel of all the forces, be it CAPFs or Army.
● To curb depression among jawans, yoga, meditation and recreation facilities are provided and regular checks of these provisions are essential to sort out the death numbers.

A way of treating everyone in the forces with humanity, friendly approach and a timely grievance redressing the needy without disparities could bring a peaceful work conditions and secure nation.


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