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World

55% increase in suicide cases among the Indian Central Reserve Police Force: report

  • According to a report, there has been a 55 percent increase in the number of suicides among the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) over the past five years.
Updated 21 Nov 2020

NEW DELHI: According to a report, there has been a 55 percent increase in the number of suicides among the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) over the past five years.

In 2020 alone, as of the 17th of November, there have been 45 suicide cases in the CRPF, and according to the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, this figure has been steadily increasing since 2016, with the government officially citing "personal and domestic problems" as the main cause behind this deeply entrenched issue.

The report shows that of the 45 suicides this year, 13 took place in Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, 7 in the North-East, 10 in territories impacted by left-wing extremism (including the country's ongoing Maoist insurgency), and 15 scattered around the rest of the country - indicative of the fact that these suicides are more prevalent in high-intensity combat regions.

While government officials have repeatedly stated that this prevailing issue can be attributed to "personal and domestic problems, like marital discord, personal enmity, mental illness, depression etc." which are allegedly exacerbated due to social media; yet CRPF veterans have told a different story about tough working conditions and the lack of attention towards the mental health of the troops.

According to S.S. Sandhu, a retired Inspector General of the CRPF, “The stress levels in the CRPF are much higher than those in the Army. Yet, while the Army has a full-fledged directorate that analyses causes of mental health issues, conducts research and offers counselling to jawans, there is nothing of this sort in the CRPF".

He added that "when I was at the helm of the training division, I had proposed an Army-like institution for the CRPF, but the proposal did not see the light of the day", stating that CRPF troops often move across the country to their deployments with little to no training or preparation. Sandhu mentioned that "the dramatic changes in weather conditions, security conditions, etc, coupled with the lack of basic facilities like proper accommodation, few leaves, etc result in debilitating stress for these officers".

While the government has attempted to set up guidelines for a compulsory 15-day mental health orientation course to detect early symptoms of mental illness among personnel, many have criticised that these measures are insufficient to deal with the mounting issue of suicide in the CRPF.