Police official shoots senior dead at Ranchi: Poor command structure, long tenures in conflict zones cause stress, says expert

Debobrat Ghose

A police constable on Monday shot dead his company commander and killed himself at Ranchi. Another constable, who received bullet injuries in the firing, has been hospitalised.

This incident comes less than a week after another case of fratricide at Chhattisgarh's Narayanpur.

In Ranchi, constable Vikram Rajware shot dead his superior, Mela Ram Kurre, and during the firing, constable Venudhar Guru sustained a bullet injury in his thigh. Guru has now been hospitalised. The incident occurred at 6.30 am on Monday, according to a police source. All three belong to 1066 Company of the Chhattisgarh's State Police Force (SPF), and were deployed in Jharkhand for the ongoing Assembly election.

"There was an altercation between the jawan and the commander in the morning, and after that, the jawan fired at his commander. However, the reason for this altercation is still unknown," the source said.

The 1066 company of the Chhattisgarh SPF had earlier been stationed at Khelgaon Stadium in Ranchi for a night halt and was on its way to Hazaribag for the third phase of Jharkhand Assembly election.

Initially, it was rumoured that the commander and the jawans belong to the CRPF. However, the CRPF headquarters clarified, "They don't belong to CRPF. The company belongs to Chhattisgarh SPF and is deployed for the Jharkhand Assembly election." CRPF headquarters has clarified.

In another incident on Monday at Geedam in Naxal-affected Dantewada, a CRPF jawan committed suicide. The reason could not be ascertained.

Less than a week ago, an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) jawan shot dead four of his colleagues with an AK-47 rifle and killed himself at Kadena in Narayanpur district. Two other jawans were seriously injured in the incident.

Narayanpur, located close to the Maharashtra border, is a hotbed of Left-Wing Extremism (LWE). Similarly, 18 out of 24 districts in Jharkhand are LWE-affected.

According to data tabled in the Rajya Sabha this year, over 930 police personnel, including those from the paramilitary forces, committed suicide in the last five years. Between 2016 and 2018, 307 paramilitary personnel committed suicide. In the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), between 2012 and 2015, the highest number of suicides (149) was reported by the CRPF.

Anil Kamboj, counter-terrorism analyst, said, "There's definitely a rise in such kind of incidents. The foremost reasons are excessive stress and poor command control. There's a growing lack of communication between the superiors and the subordinate staff members, which results in severe frustration €" even to the extent of jawans going into depression €" which is alarming. Regular communication helps ease frustration, but this is not seen to be happening in many cases."

Other factors include an increase in workload with the same or lower personnel strength, long periods of deployment in conflict zones, frequent movement of troops from one conflict zone to another without a break, and staying away from home for longer periods.

Kamboj added, "While the use of mobile phones is no doubt a boon, it also heightens stress. Now, security personnel are almost constantly in touch with their family members, but cannot help them in day-to-day problems. Getting leave is not easy. This has aggravated stress among security personnel posted in remote locations."

The Ministry of Home Affairs says occupational hazards such as long tenures of deployment in difficult areas are among the reasons behind the suicides. It also cites domestic issues, marital discord and financial problems as other reasons.

Without doubt, the present situation is alarming, and has a direct impact on security operations.

A possible outcome of impulsive actions among security forces can also be incidents like the encounter in Chhattisgarh's Sarkeguda in 2012. A judicial inquiry commission recently found that 17 villagers killed in the encounter were not Naxals. The commission said that the forces fired at the villagers in "panic" after hearing a noise in the distance.

Also See: ITBP constable dies after fatally shooting five colleagues: Stress, tough work conditions take toll on mental health of security personnel

ITBP constable dead after fatally shooting five colleagues in Chhattisgarh's Narayanpur; two injured

17 killed in encounter at Chhattisgarh's Sarkeguda not Naxals, finds judicial inquiry: Villagers recall long struggle for justice

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