Indian soldiers posted in conflict and high altitude operational areas are to get special benefits and allowances to combat stress related incidents.
This was decided Thursday at a meeting of the cabinet, which cleared a defence ministry proposal to bring in better amenities and improve working conditions to check increasing cases of fratricidal killings and suicides.
AdvertisementUnder the new proposals, personnel serving in high altitude, counter insurgency and counter terrorism specified areas will get an additional free railway warrant to visit their home town.
All service personnel will also be eligible to undertake their vacations to their choice destination without any restriction on distances.
Moreover, difficult area allowances for those posted in the Siachen glacier, the world's highest battlefield, have increased to Rs.5,600 and Rs.3,734 each month for officers and personnel below officer ranks respectively.
Stress related incidents have been on the rise in the defence services. According to official figures, there were 32 cases of military personnel killing their colleagues last year alone.
According to figures tabled in parliament, 64 cases of fratricidal killings have been reported in the army over the past six years.
Scores of army and paramilitary officers performing anti-insurgency duties in the troubled Kashmir Valley have died in similar circumstances.
Though the Indian Army and paramilitary forces have introduced several measures including psychiatric counselling and yoga and stress-management classes, it has not paid off.
Experts say long absences from the family as well as dangers when they are engaged in patrolling and counter-insurgency operations put enormous strain on the soldiers, pushing some of them to commit suicide.