But for their tragic toll, and deep roots, the on-again, off-again clashes between India and Pakistan along their frontiers in Kashmir would have earned their leaders a place in the hall of comic characters, and all-round condemnation for failing to come to grips with dire issues that bedevil their relations as well as their people. Thousands of villagers have been reported evacuated from the nations’ respective fields of fire, and many lives have been lost, again. This is only a small part of the civilian side of the story where, if present circumstances are an indication, disruption and death has come to haunt again.
If the on-going conflict has taken a myriad toll on Kashmiris, forces personnel too have not escaped its consequences. Ssuicide and fratricidal incidents have killed more security men than militancy since January this year. Out of a total of 41 security men killed in the period, seventeen committed suicide and seven died in fratricidal shootings, while fifteen were killed in encounters with militants across Jammu and Kashmir.
Experts attribute this growing incidence to continued deployment in hostile conditions, and denial of leave and recreation. According to a Srinagar-based news agency, authorities “intend to take measures to address the problem.”
In his paper Stress in Indian Army: A Psychological Perspective of Present Scenario and Needs, psychiatric social expert Anshu Gupta says that feelings of guilt and the fear of getting killed or wounded wreak havoc with the psychology of the soldier. According to him, the fear of getting killed is the most common fear that engulfs a soldier. Other factors, according to him, are loss of contact, loss of individual freedom, loneliness, and comparison with counterparts. The government of India must take note of the gravity of the situation, and act with urgency to resolve the Kashmir issue, the cause of so much suffering and pain on all sides.