In a rare case of fragging in the Indian Air Force, a sergeant emptied his service carbine into a junior warrant officer (JWO) at Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal after he was denied leave.
A defence ministry spokesperson in Kolkata said Sergeant Debendra Singh Rajput, a 37-year-old radio technician, got into a heated exchange with JWO Dinesh Chandra Mishra over "the issue of leave" on Tuesday morning. Fragging is a term from the Vietnam War and implies killing of a superior by a junior to settle scores.
The police said Rajput wanted to go his native village in Uttar Pradesh to be with his ailing wife. The sergeant's leave was initially sanctioned but later cancelled without assigning any reason, prompting him to open fire at Mishra, who died on the spot. Rajput was overpowered by air force personnel in attendance and handed over to police.
“Mishra did not understand my desperation and how I needed to go home. He cancelled my leave without listening to me,” Rajput said at the Kharagpur police station during interrogation. He was on security duty on Monday night and had not deposited the carbine in the armoury. The IAF has ordered an inquiry. The air force had recorded two fragging incidents during 2004-05.
So what really compels a soldier to kill his own superior? After comprehensive surveys, military psychologists have found that perceived humiliation and abusive language by superiors are among the precipitating factors for fragging and suicide among soldiers. Experts from the Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR) in New Delhi have identified poor command and control, increased workload and leave issues as the perfect recipe for disaster.