From Ajay Mehta & Christina Palmer
NEW DELHI—As if the drive to recruiter sex workers to reduce stress and frustration level of the troops, deployed in Occupied Kashmir, was not enough, the Indian Army leadership has now decided to ban the use of mobile phones by troops to minimize their stress level, reveal the findings of The Daily Mail.
These findings indicate that senior medical officers of the Indian armed forces believe that just engaging the sex workers under the grab of female soldiers was not enough to rid the soldiers of frustration and mental stress but the use of mobile phone by troops was also a permanent source of stress and strain for the soldiers, deployed in the occupied valley.
“The problem is not the stress in the encounter, the problem is the cell phone and that should be banned,’’ said Lt-General Dipankar Ganguly, speaking on the occasion of the 246th anniversary of the Army Medical Corps here yesterday.
The top General said that cell phones allowed the soldiers to maintain regular contact with their families and get updated on their problems, which led to higher levels of stress among them.
Armed Forces Medical Services Director General Lt-Gen N K Parmar, in his observation, said that the armed forces had taken a number of steps to tackle stress-related issues among the troops. “A confidential move was made in September last by the Army High Command to minimize the level of mental stress and frustration of the soldiers posted in Kashmir,” said General N.K Parmar, referring to the move made under the recommendations of General Raj Kumar Committee, constituted by Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor.
But, as reported earlier, armed forces continue to grapple with stress-related deaths in the shape of suicide and `fragging’ (to kill a fellow soldiers) cases. In 2008, for instance, there were 151 suicide and four `fragging’ cases in the three Services.
While prolonged deployment in operations in Indian occupied part of J&K and North-East are exacting a heavy toll on the physical endurance and mental health of soldiers, they also undergo tremendous stress for not being able to take care of the problems facing their families back home. The problems could range from property disputes and harassment by anti-social elements to financial and marital problems.
Soldiers, of course, also have to grapple with paltry salaries, lack of basic amenities, ineffectual leadership, humiliation at the hands of their officers, and the constant fear of being accused of human rights violations.
It is worth mentioning here that earlier last year, in another bid to relieve the soldiers of the mental stress and sexual frustration, the Indian Army deployed around 200 prostitutes under the cover of Border Security Force’s constables in the Indian occupied Kashmir along with the Line of Control in September 2009. The decision of recruiting prostitutes for deployment in the held valley was taken in around February 2009 and Indian Army Chief General Kapoor finally approved it. This decision was taken as result of discussions and consultancies regarding the alarmingly increasing incidents of suicides and killing colleagues by soldiers of Indian army that are deployed in the Indian Occupied Kashmir to fight insurgency.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that the factor of suicides and random shoot outs on colleagues by Indian soldiers in the held valley had become a big dilemma for the Indian army top brass. When this exercise gained momentum earlier this year, the army leadership approached different consultants and analysts. The consultants and analysts reached to the conclusion that Indian soldiers, deployed in the valley were committing suicides and killing colleagues out of acute frustration and depression. Medical and psychological consultants and analysts were of the view that since majority of the soldiers, deployed in the valley were married and were away from their wives for very long time, they were gripped by sexual frustrations which ultimately transformed into mental frustration.
These consultants suggested that the soldier posted in the valley should be sent on leaves to be with their wives once a month. This came as another dilemma for the Indian Army’s top brass as it was not possible at all to send such huge number of soldiers on leaves with regular intervals. The Daily Mail’s investigations further reveal that upon this a Major General was sent to Moscow to get some solution to the problems as Russians have been having some sort of similar problems around 2 decades back. This General, identified as General Kumar, returned with a very strange solution. The Russian consultants told the Indian army that the since the soldiers in the valley were women starving, they should be provided with women to meet their genuine and natural needs.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that at this stage, the Indian Army Chief constituted a committee under the command of Lt.General. Raj Kumar Karwal who currently posted as Director General of a training facility of the Indian army while Major General. Sanjeev Loomba, Brigadier. Anil Sharma, Colonel. N K Khunduri and Colonel.
Sanjay Rai were members of the committee. The committee finally came up with the solution that since it was not possible to provide street whores directly to the soldier thus professional prostitutes should be recruited with title of sex workers and than they should be given basic military training and should be posted in Kashmir sector as soldiers so that the male soldiers can establish relations with them. It was also decided that the recruitment should not be made publicly but RAW’s help should be sought as RAW was having a huge network of prostitutes in different cities of India. The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that RAW completed the assignment successfully and provided a batch of some 300, semi educated prostitutes to the General Raj Kumar committee after proper medical checkup of every individual. The committee then approached the Army Chief and it was decided that these new recruit should not be made part of mainstream army but should be adjusted in Border Security Force (BSF) and from there their services would be made available for Northern Command. The project was completed by the end of August when the new recruited batch of 300 completed a basic military training and Army Chief was informed that recruits were ready for deployment in the valley.
When contacted by The Daily Mail, Inspector General of BSF Himmat Singh confirmed that a batch of 178 female soldiers was sent to Northern Command where they were deployed along with Indo-Pak border to check the border violations by women, working in the field. Mr. Singh further stated that these women were not fully trained for operational military duties however in the next phase, after further training, they would be given the duties of operational Border security. Mr. Singh refused to admit that these female soldiers were actually prostitutes and were dispatched to the valley as undercover sex workers.