Fratricidal Killings

Fratricide (from the Latin words frater "brother" and cida "killer," or cidum "a killing," both from caedere "to kill, to cut down") is the act of a person, directly or via use of either a hired or an indoctrinated intermediary (an assassin) that ultimately results in the killing of their brother.

The tension in the valley over the years has taken a toll on every generation living in Kashmir, be it the residents of the valley or the Army men deployed here. Apart from all the physical stress on people this turmoil mixed with the longing and memories of their homes also brings mental stress and distraught, hence this results in ailments like depression, anxiety, anger, and hypersensitivity. A person is not able to control his/her emotions and it further results in him doing something which he/she regrets later. One such act is the Fratricidal Killing, where the psyche of a person gets blinded so much so that it makes him kill his own comrade, a fellow human being. Many such horrendous examples have been seen in Kashmir like, on July 18 2017 a soldier shot dead an Indian Army officer in Uri. The Major, Shikhar Thapa and the jawan were from the Rashtriya Rifles corps, the jawan reportedly fired five bullets at Major Thapa. Major Thapa had reprimanded the soldier for using his mobile phone while on duty in a sensitive area. An argument ensued after the phone was damaged, and the soldier shot Major Thapa killing him instantly. In another such incident a paramilitary Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) trooper was killed and another was injured in a firing incident, in Banihal area of Ramban district of Jammu.
The firing incident took place in the evening near Navyuga Engineering Base camp, the company entrusted with the task of four-laning of the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway. The victims were identified as Head Constable Ram Parvesh and the injured as ASI Sham Singh. One of them had a blunt object pierced into his face while the other died of a bullet wound. They were out on patrol when the incident happened. It looks like they might have had a scuffle between them. A decade long military posturing in Kashmir has shown that whenever a soldier gets consumed by a comrade’s gun and does such kinds of acts, it has to do with work-related stress and the killer soldiers’ domestic tensions.Another reason of this mental aggression is the guilt in Indian soldiers. In spite of the hard training, many soldiers may suffer from guilt feeling of killing a fellow human being in spite of them being trained the other way round, sometimes the feeling of killing a human overwhelms a soldier to such a level that it becomes too much to handle and he is filled with great remorse and thinks he had committed a heinous and unforgivable sin, this feeling bursts out at a wrong time and at a wrong place resulting in further destruction. While a surge in fratricide killing might be seen as a long term effect of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSDs) among Indian soldiers, but the military establishment has its own ways of looking at these things. Army officials blame the lack of oxygen and a sense of isolation in a high-altitude region like Kashmir for triggering fratricide tendencies in soldiers. With the finding they conducted, the prolonged deployment of the armed forces for counter-insurgency purposes in Kashmir is also behind this mental woe. Also, a larger sense prevails in the army that they have been pitted against their own misled and agonized people rather than the real enemy responsible of creating this rift. To address the stress among soldiers and to suggest remedial measures, union defense ministry involved an expert group of psychiatrists in December 2006 under the Defense Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR). It distributed field manuals on suicides and fratricides along with sought help from religious teachers, JCOs of Army Education Corps and regimental medical officers. Emphasis was laid on strengthening the buddy system, by which soldiers can share emotions and feelings with someone they can trust.

The killing of colleagues by personnel of the Central Paramilitary Force (CPMF) seems to be on the increase, despite measures to reduce stress and minimise the period of separation from family. Official statistics made available reveal that such cases had been increasing in the past three years with the Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Bureau of Police Research and Development said that the PMF personnel killing their own colleagues is the result of stress and depression due to long separation from family, high mobility and long duty hours. In order to reduce long separation from family, the government has enhanced the entitlement of family accommodation from 14 percent to 25 percent, several measures have also been taken to reduce stress among the CPF personnel. The figures indicate the levels of tension among troopers as, in 2008 34 soldiers committed suicide, 52 cases of fratricidal killings took place between 21st January, 2004 and 14th July, 2009. Between January and early August 2010, 16 soldiers committed suicide and 2 died from fratricidal killings.An Indian soldier was killed in an incident of fratricide at an army camp in Rajouri district. The soldier was a member of Animal Transport Unit of Rajouri and died under mysterious circumstances in an army camp located in Gambhir area of the district.A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) head constable A.K. Das of the E/110 Battalion, posted at a grid station also committed suicide by shooting himself with his service rifle in South Kashmir’s Pampore town.Suicides and fratricide incidents are common among CRPF and army personnel deployed in Kashmir. In May this year, an army soldier committed suicide by shooting himself with his service rifle in the Laam sector along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district. In January this year, a CRPF soldier shot himself while on duty inside a camp at Tral town in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Last year also, incidents of suicides in the ranks of military and paramilitary forces were reported in the Valley. As per Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), as many as seven cases of suicide were documented in 2016. Out of the seven cases, four were from the army, including two officers of major rank, two BSF soldiers and one CRPF trooper. In 2015, as per the year-end JKCCS report, there were as many as eight cases of suicide by military, paramilitary and police forces. Out of the eight cases, four army personnel, one from the Air Defence Regiment, two from the CRPF and a policeman committed suicide. In 2014, there were 18 suicides of military and paramilitary forces and two incidents of fratricide, in which seven personnel were killed.597 armed forces personnel lost their lives to suicide. Similarly, in 2013, 8 people from the armed forces committed suicide due to unknown reasons and four personnel were killed in fratricide incidents. In 2012, nine armed forces personnel committed suicide and one was killed in a fratricide incident. In 2011, 15 people from the armed personnel committed suicide and another nine were killed in fratricide incidents. In December 2011, three CRPF personnel were killed and another critically injured in a fratricide incident at a camp in Kulgam, South Kashmir. Earlier that year in April, four army men, including a junior commissioned officer, were shot dead and another wounded by their colleague inside an army camp of the 42 Rashtriya Rifles in South Kashmir’s Bijbehara town. As a remedial measure to curb such a menace 400 psychiatrists have been recruited for the officers to help them cope with stress that has led to an increase in fratricidal killings and suicides. Rest and recuperation centres have been set up in the northern Jammu and Kashmir region. Soldiers from different units undergo stress-busting therapies of one week. Some people sit back and watch films, while others settle for some meditation. Every possible measure has been taken to ensure safety of the soldiers of every rank so that safety of the nation is ensured because the hands serving the nation should be used to end lives of only enemies of the nation.