STRESSED-OUT soldiers can let down their hair. The government has asked the army to be more considerate in sanctioning leave to its personnel, especially those serving in the strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast. South Block's instructions are part of the government's efforts to curb growing instances of fratricide in the force.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that 23 cases of fratricide had been reported this year from the strife-torn J&K and the Northeast.
Thirteen cases of fratricide or "fragging" were reported in 2005 and nine in 2004. The ministry has decided to undertake a slew of administrative and welfare measures to prevent soldiers from killing colleagues.
The ministry has also decided to instruct chief ministers to take "steps" to ensure well-being of the families of military personnel deployed in forward areas.
The army has been directed to adopt a more liberal leave policy so that soldiers could attend to their domestic problems. A panel has been set up to study the problem and its report is due in two months.
Antony said courts of inquiry ordered into fratricide cases attributed the killings to "perceived grievances because of harassment by seniors and argument among colleagues. firstname.lastname@example.org