Stressed-out security personnel need a shoulder to cry on.
The Border Security Force has asked the government to let them hire counsellors, at least one in each battalion in frontier areas, to help jawans fighting the country's battles cope with work-related stress and domestic troubles.
BSF director general AK Mitra said a proposal had been moved before the Union home ministry to let each battalion have a counsellor for the mental health of the jawans. A detailed investigation into 35 suicides by BSF personnel had led Mitra to the conclusion that the majority were due to domestic problems.
In 27 cases, they had just returned from home and had been calling up home very frequently. Mitra blamed the breakdown of the joint family system for the domestic stress. It does not help that their work too is a high stress job.
"They do need someone to talk to them and help them cope up," said a senior BSF official.
Another problem that Mitra said which was undoubtedly a cause of concern was the "quite high" instance of HIV infection. "Ninety-four cases of HIV have been reported so far... The figure is quite high and substantial," he said.
"Seventy per cent of the BSF personnel are aged between 25 and 40 and are staying away from their families for long periods," he said noting that it was natural that "biological compulsions" drive them to commercial sex workers.
Email Aloke Tikku: atikku @hindustantimes.com