Hours after 26-year-old Captain Megha Razdan’s alleged suicide on Sunday, an infantry soldier turned his Insas rifle on himself at an army camp on the fringes of Jammu on Monday.
Rifleman Vishnu Pratap Singh of Rajputana Rifles hailed from Madhya Pradesh.
The two deaths on consecutive days, prima facie being attributed to a stressful work environment, have left the Ministry of Defence anxious.
On Tuesday, Defence Minister AK Antony directed senior army officials to take immediate corrective measures to check the surge in suicides and fratricidal killings.
The meeting was attended by defence secretary Shekhar Dutt, army vice chief Lieutenant-General Deepak Kapoor, Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services Vice-Admiral Yogendra Singh, and officials of the Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR).
Statistics show that suicides in the army far outnumber fatal battle casualties. Over 120 suicides were reported in 2006; 52 soldiers have already taken the extreme step in 2007.
Antony asked the army to expedite its probe in Razdan’s case. Ministry officials were asked to request the government of Jammu and Kashmir to speed up the police investigation. The minister also told the army to adopt remedial measures suggested by the DIPR.
In a recent report on the causes of suicides and fratricides, the DIPR had said abusive language and perceived humiliation by superiors were among the precipitating factors for suicide among troops.
The officer cadre was advised to put hierarchy behind them, and open clogged communication channels.
The report listed the dangers of employing troops in demeaning household chores, and of handing out physical punishment. Poor command and control, increased workload and leave issues too were identified as trigger factors.