Fragging incidents a cause of worry, say veterans



Yet another incident of fratricidal firing has occurred. This time it took place at a Central Reserve Police Force camp near Bokaro, Jharkhand, where the CRPF was deployed on election duty.

Two personnel, including an assistant commandant and an assistant sub-inspector, were killed, and two others, including the shooter, were injured.

The reason for the incident is not known and an enquiry has been ordered.

Barely a week ago on December 4, a similar incident had occurred in which six security personnel at an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) camp in Chhattisgarh were killed and two others injured, when they were fired at by one of their colleagues before he turned the gun on himself.

The spate of fratricidal shootings in the armed and paramilitary forces is raising concern among social scientists and the establishment.

Factors like growing mental stress and lack of required manpower may be the reasons for these incidents, say experts.

Expressing concerns, Major General (rtd) Dhruv Katoch said, "Incidents of fragging, are worrisome. In most cases, fragging indicates poor man management in a unit or sub-unit."

Although these incidents are not confined to particular operational areas, they have become more frequent in the Maoist-affected areas, like Chhattisgarh. "They are not confined to any operational area. But more such cases occur there due to the requirement of having troops with weapons and ammunition at all times."

Suggesting possible mechanisms to reduce such incidents, he said, "They are mostly results of mental stress. Remedies to prevent these incidents include having a buddy system, periodic visits by senior officers, daily informal interaction by sub-unit commanders and accessibility of the officers to their command."

Brigadier (rtd) S.K. Chatterji said, "Fragging is the worst experience that a combat unit can have to cope up with. "The reasons for fragging incidents are primarily stress-oriented. The worst situation for stress-related aberrant behaviour is the combination of domestic stress and profession-induced fatigue.

"However, having seen these short of incidents over the years, it needs to be said that certain individuals are not amenable to responding affirmatively to orders from superiors. At times, this necessity creates deep resentment in the individual, resulting in fragging cases."

On solutions, he said, "Meditation and access to religious institutions within the unit could benefit." Communication at the peer level and also with superior officers would be a big help, he added  IANS