Thursday, April 22, 2010


How bullets lose in front of mosquito bites?

The recent Dantewada incident, where 75 CRPF personnel were brutally killed by Maoist, became a week-long area of focus by Indian media. Such has been the impact of this incidence that it just did not send shivers across the nation; it also shook the power corridors in the capital. So much so that even the Honourable Home Minister announced his resignation. Though extremely unfortunate but thanks to the Maoist bullets that this massacre hit the headlines and became a national concern, otherwise similar incidents, of paramilitary personnel dying now and then, generally gets under reported or worst, not reported. Otherwise what else can explain the reason behind our government ignoring the matter of security men dying on account of curable diseases and unhygienic living conditions, for so long!

For almost a decade, on account of growing internal security threats, the paramilitary forces have been deployed to the jungles without adequate medical facilities. And the challenges that exists in the tribal belts of the country is known to almost everyone. Diseases like malaria are so common that it never gets reported. But the situation could be gauged by a report which indicates that 30 per cent of total malaria related deaths account from the tribal belt, alone. And as most of the CRPF personnel are deployed in tribal belts of India, which is a hub of both deadly diseases and equally deadly Maoists, the vulnerability towards getting infected from such diseases is get quite high. Consider this: as per a recent report, around 90 CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh are suffering from malaria and around 100 policemen fighting Maoists in the state of Jharkhand have died of malaria in the past two years. During 2006, more than 22 Naga and Mizo policemen died of malaria in comparison to 7 casualties during Maoist attacks.

What more, a simple analysis indicates that India loses more personnel due to diseases, natural disasters and accidents than during ambush and anti-insurgencies missions. Another report reveals that 3,364 personnel were lost to natural causes while 837 to accidents, compared to 604 personnel in action. Besides all these, our officers also suffer from AIDS (1,000 cases), cancer (700 cases), skin infections (40,000 cases) and psychiatric problems (5,000 cases).

These deaths speak volumes about lack of intervention from the government’s ends at multiple levels. Firstly, it indicates how government overlooks those deaths which are not political in nature. Since last 10 years, there have been no provisions to ensure that our security personnel who are deployed in such dangerous terrains receive basic amenities like health care and proper clothing. Leave aside the aspect of providing them with proper food and safety equipment, paramilitary forces even do not receive proper medical assistance and drinking water. Secondly, the whole of tribal belt suffers from diseases like malaria and cholera, nothing much has been done in these fronts as well. The sheer number of deaths of soldiers proves that even today the incidence of such diseases is quite high are these regions.

A life lost is a life lost, but its so unfortunate that the design of death and the resultant political rewards determines the follow up action. For a soldier, a life lost in a battle is self-rewarding but a life lost in a battle with mosquitoes has no such justification. It is outrageous that the soldiers who have taken an oath of safe guarding fellow countrymen from all kinds of threats, themselves stand vulnerable to the negligence of their own political masters!


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