On January 5, a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) sub-inspector used his service revolver to commit suicide at a Delhi Metro station. On January 16, a CISF constable used his service rifle to commit suicide while on duty at the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru. Two days later, a trainee sub-inspector with the CISF committed suicide in Hyderabad. On February 9, a CISF jawan took his life at Okhla, and two weeks later, a 23-year-old CISF officer working at the Pune airport committed suicide. Initial reports attributed the five suicides to personal reasons or stress outside work.
Personal problems constitute about 50% of the suicides witnessed in the force, and OP Singh, the CISF’s director general, recently said that all efforts are being taken to address this issue.
The psychological stress on personnel is bad for the morale of the security force and if unchecked, a stressed out personnel could even be a threat to the public as well.
Alarm bells are also ringing in the armed forces where a high number of personnel are taking the extreme step. Between 2012 and 2015, about 449 suicides were seen across the services. Stress is a major reason, but the sahayak system — which has been in the news recently, especially after the suicide of Lance-Naik Roy Mathew — needs to be looked into, to ascertain whether it is a contributing factor.
Clearly our security forces are facing a crisis. The forces are losing a disturbing number of personnel and the reason is not the enemy’s bullet . The hidden enemy is the flaws in force management. Former army officers have blamed the lack of discipline to a spike in suicides and fratricides.
According to Mr Singh, the CISF is constituting leave committees in all its units, similar to the one in the Delhi Metro, and this is a good move that could have been initiated much earlier.
Latest technology, sophisticated weaponry and advanced training are important, but mental and physical fitness of the force is equally critical.
Our security forces must integrate counselling and other de-stressing techniques into the system. Leave management, a balance in officer-jawan ratio and better officer-jawan relations also need to be addressed. The practice of treating juniors as glorified servants must be stopped.