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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Second suicide in a day: Indian army officer shoots himself dead in Kashmir

Amid reports suggesting a surge in the number of suicides and fratricides among the personnel of the Indian military posted in Jammu and Kashmir, an Indian army officer shot himself dead at an Army depot in Khonmoh on Wednesday.

Lieutenant Colonel Sudeep Bhagat, who was posted at the depot, fired upon himself, the officials said in Srinagar. After the gunshots, soldiers rushed to the spot and found the officer dead. He was immediately shifted to hospital where doctors declared him brought dead, they said.

It was not known why the officer took the extreme step.

Earlier in the day, an army sepoy was found dead in the Army’s Ace of Spade’s division camp in Rajouri district. An official in the Jammu division told a local news agency that the sepoy posted in an army camp near Chawa area on the outskirts of Rajouri town was found lying in a pool of blood with bullet marks on his body.

“The body has been taken to Government Medical College Associated Hospital in the border district for post mortem examination and other medico-legal formalities,” he said.

The official said that investigation is going on to find out the cause of death as the deceased had bullet marks on his body.

Incidents of suicide and fratricide are not uncommon among the members of the various government forces deployed in Kashmir. But last year, the number of these incidents has shot up for reasons that range from the Covid-19 pandemic to a ban on home leave to family issues and heavy duties.

On March 1st, an Indian border guard attempted suicide by shooting himself in Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar. The trooper, Gagan Jha, from Sashastra Seema Bal, a border force, shot himself in the neck at a camp in Bemina and was rushed to a nearby hospital.

Doctors at the SK Institute of Medical Science in Bemina had said that Jha “suffered a little injury on the left side of the nape of his neck and is stable”.

According to a report between January and August 2020, 18 members of the government forces died by suicide and six died in fratricidal incidents, making a total of 24 such deaths in the period.

In 2019, according to the annual human rights review by the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), 19 members of the armed forces reportedly died by suicide while three were killed in a fratricidal incident in Udhampur district. The total number of deaths by suicide and fratricide for all the 12 months of 2019 was 22.

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