NEW DELHI — Thrice the number of CRPF jawans fell prey to depression, heart attack and malaria than were killed in anti-Naxal operations across the country between 2009-2013, a parliamentary panel has found.
Asking the government to look into the issues of these jawans on a "war footing", the panel, in its latest report tabled in Rajya Sabha, said that while 228 personnel in the country's largest paramilitary force fell prey to depression, heart attacks claimed the lives of 642 troopers while malaria killed 108 personnel during the said period.
On the other hand, the force saw 323 operational deaths in the 10 left wing extremism-hit states of the country during the five years under review.
"The committee is shocked to note that the number of deaths, 978, due to suicide caused by depression, and heart attack and malaria is almost triple that of deaths, i.e., 323, caused by left wing extremism (for Central Reserve Police Force).
"(It) apprehends that the figure of death due to above- mentioned reasons may run into thousands if all Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and border guarding forces are taken into consideration... the government should immediately take measures on a war footing for attending to the grave situation," said the standing committee of Home Affairs.
The panel urged the government to look into the long- pending grievances of these jawans, who are the lead force for anti-Maoist operations and for controlling law and order situation along with the local police in various states during any disturbances.
"The committee is sympathetic to the desperate situation of paramilitary personnel. It feels that the government should look into the agonies through which they pass while working in difficult circumstances. The committee understands that when the personnel of paramilitary forces pass through stress and feel de-motivated and demoralised, it would have far-reaching negative repercussions.
"The committee, therefore, recommends that the government should look into the long-pending grievances of the paramilitary personnel and address them in a time-bound manner," it said.
The committee had sought to delve into the problems faced by the men and officers of the about 3-lakh-strong CRPF, which was raised in 1939.
"The committee understands that years of working in hostile conditions by CAPFs' personnel and staying away from their family, long working hours, sleep deprivation, denial of leave, etc., take a toll on their lives.
"(It) recommends that the paramilitary forces should introduce yoga and other stress management techniques in the CAPFs to de-stress these personnel.
"The committee also recommends that the personnel long posted in difficult areas should be transferred to relatively normal areas after a fixed duration. The special allowances aspect should also be examined," it said.
The panel expressed concern as it said that the concept of having "reserve" or out-of-regular duty units in these forces, including CRPF, was not practicable anymore.
"The committee takes serious note of the exhaustion of reserve battalions among forces. Reserve components are necessary to enable the personnel to have soft posting for some time, may be nearer to their hometown area. The government should consider this aspect seriously," it added.