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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Col Santosh Mahadik - Supreme Sacrifice & Effects

Hi All,

Forwarding  a mail that I recd from Col Ramesh Alwar ( Retd ) . He has written this mail, in the aftermath of the martyrdom by Col Santosh Mahadik SM , yesterday in Kupwara. I personally feel that his suggestions are on the correct lines and need to be reinforced and shared with all the stake holders.

Colonel  N K Balakrishnan (Retd.)

 
Dear Veterans,

May his soul rest in peace. For a soldier death while fighting for the nation is the highest goal. Col Santosh would have discharged all his accumulated Karmas in this final sacrifice and earned supreme bliss. No doubt the loss is irreparable but we should remember what Sri Krishna Paramahatma told Arjuna that the wise grieve neither for the dead nor the living. The Aatma is immortal. Sri Krishna also pointed out to Arjuna that the Self is indestructible. Col Santosh's sacrifice will not be in vain for the Nation as well his dear family.

I wish to raise a point that Civilian Officers from the MOD should attend the funerals of service personnel from time to time as a matter of policy. Greater exposure to service and operational conditions will reduce the current apathy, indifference and ,if I may add, considerable hostility to our needs. Sitting in the comfortable confines of the same office for decades, the civilian counterparts are bound to lose touch with the harsh realities of service life. They become paper tigers very early in their careers and develop many misconceptions that appear to them to be convictions.

We have all heard of PTSD or Post Trauma Stress Disorders. It is seen that PTSD is the main cause of unhappiness, maladjustment in society and suicides amongst serving /retired personnel. There were as many as 635 cases of suicide including attempted suicides and 67 cases of fratricidal killings in the three services of Armed Forces during the years 2003 to 2007. These statistics also indicate that Army was worst affected by this malady in terms ofnumber of cases of suicides and fratricides in each of the year during this period. The statistics are chilling. According to Ministry of Defence, every third day a soldier is killing himself, at a rate higher than the toll taken by the militants. From 2007 to May 2010, 208 soldiers lost their lives in actions against militants while 368 soldiers killed themselves during this period. Another 15 to 30 soldiers try to kill themselves every year, but fail. The worry is that they might try again. This alarming trend of suicides and fratricidal killings in the Armed Forces during the recent past is attributable to enhanced stress environment leading to psychological imbalance in the soldiers. Combat exposure can at times lead to trauma-such as seeing flashbacks of combat, killings or face of a fallen comrade who might have told you about his wife or children just before quitting this world. Memories of unintentional slayings can also haunt them for long. [Col JK Dixit in his Paper -Addressing Stress-Related Issues in Army-IDSA Feb 2011]

How can we stop this? How can we reduce grief and guilt amongst those surviving an operation where their comrades have fallen? Some of the measures are as follows:-

1. Those who sacrifice their live in battle/operations should be so highly honoured and their families should also be so highly revered and looked after that no soldier need ever look over his or her shoulder when the bullets are flying or the shrapnels are whizzing by. Their funerals must be an elaborate affair with senior civilian officers from the MOD and the Service HQ must record their visible presence.

2. Our training must include psychological and spiritual philosophy about killing, being, killed, and surviving engagements where life is lost. This must form part of not only initial training at the Academies/Training Centres but throughout the service at regular intervals. Some may decry it as indoctrination but it is nothing but the development of a healthy warrior's personality. It is motivation with special topic of the ultimate aims of soldiers or the raison d'etre for their existence.

The three Services must initiate a policy of periodic visits to units/formations by MOD officials. Funerals are a must. They must also visit the families and see the unbearable anguish and mental suffering of the slain soldier's near and dear one. This kind of honouring and adulation of soldiers who have laid down their lives will improve the morale all round. It will bring about better understanding between the MOD and the Soldiers which is at an abysmal level today. Let us also collect data on how many MOD officials visited the funerals of military personnel from the highest ranks downwards. We will know if there is a case in point or not.

Let us have your views in the matter.

 Col Ramesh Alwar ( Retd. )
 
[Tri Services Veterans]

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