The Indian army is taking a fresh look at the stress releasing steps for soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir, where they have been battling militancy for the past 17 years.
Senior army officers at the northern command headquarters in Udhampur on Wednesday, took a stock of recent incidents in which the soldiers had killed their colleagues and superiors and also themselves. The most grotesque was the incident in which a sepoy had shot dead his officer, Lt. Col. Saket Saxena in Srinagar on Tuesday.
It was felt, according to sources, that more measures need to be taken to address the stress related problems of the soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir. These incidents have re-appeared within the army after a gap of almost six-to-seven years.
Special efforts would be made to work out ways to release the stress of soldiers.
However, XV corps officers feel that this is not a trend. In fact, Tuesday’s incident at Harwan in Srinagar, was the only one in the recent years in the Kashmir Valley. The other incidents of soldiers shooting their colleagues and killing themselves have taken place in Jammu region- the area under the jurisdiction of XVI corps.
"This is not a trend. Whatever has happened , has happened in the short span recently. There is no frequency to it," said Kashmir-based defense spokesperson, Col AK Mathur.
"The stress releasing measures- free telephone calls to their families, regular sanction of their leave and frequent interaction – are already in place.
"The commanders are regularly in touch with the officers and soldiers," he said.
"Every care is being taken keep jawans comfortable."
Regarding Tuesday’s incident, he said ,"the court of inquiry is trying to ascertain as to why did soldier kill his officer."
"So far nothing is known as to why did he kill the officer," Col Mathur said.
"It was purely between the soldier and the officer, actual reason is not known . In any case, it seems, it was not related to leave, Col Mathur asserted. "The jawan had returned after availing his full quota of 90 days leave, just 10 days ago."
The soldier SC Bahra from Orissa is facing court of inquiry, which was instituted immediately after he shot the officer, a normal practice in the army. He cannot be interrogated.
There is an apprehension that the soldier might invent an excuse to justify his action.