JAMMU: In the current sad state of reactionary politics in India, logic has become a brute causality. Suicide of an ex- Serviceman over the issue of One Rank One Pension or OROP has generated passions in the national capital and Bhiwani in the neighbouring state of Haryana with Congress and Aam Aadmi Party taking to streets as activists for veterans in the army. Ironically, the two parties, otherwise arch rivals to each other, till recently sided with Kanhaiya Kumar brigade, known for anti-army tirade. Recently they even questioned the authenticity of the army’s surgical strikes in Pak occupied Kashmir on 29th September and sought evidence. How sincere is the campaign unleashed by Congress and AAP is for the armed forces, time alone will reveal but at a time when the clouds of war are hovering over the country in the wake of unprovoked shelling from across the border in Jammu and Kashmir any attempt to create wedge between the government and the armed forces could be suicidal for the nation? The non-BJP opposition has been openly alleging that the present dispensation in New Delhi is exploiting the army’s heroic role on borders for political purposes. A common man has a reason to infer from these allegations that the BJP is using world’s most disciplined army for achieving political objectives. This is ridiculous and absurd. What is the motivation?
In the aftermath of the suicide of ex-Serviceman Ram Kishan Grewal, the man in the storm of controversy is former Army Chief and Minister of State for External Affairs General V. K Singh for his statement that ‘the mental state of the ex-Serviceman, who allegedly committed suicide over pension issues, needs to be probed before drawing conclusions’.
Why should the Opposition make a hue and cry over the statement of a former general? Isn’t he as a citizen of democratic India entitled to express his views? The Congress and the AAP, which are crying hoarse over this statement, need to introspect, as they have lately turned the greatest votaries of freedom of expression. How can they throttle the voice of a former general, just because he is associated with the ruling party in the country?
What is wrong in what the former Chief of Army Staff has stated? The ex-army man might have genuinely felt anguished over delay in the payment of arrears on account of OROP but that never gave him a right to take the extreme step, which was offence under Indian Penal Code. According to Section 309 IPC, “Whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or both. Though there has been a vociferous debate over scrapping this Section and the Law Commission too has recommended to this effect, however, there is no deniability that persons committing suicide suffer from a sort of mental disease. While recommending decriminalising attempt to suicide, the Law Commission of India in its 210th Report had vehemently stated that ‘attempting suicide is the manifestation of a diseased condition of mind.’
Therefore, the observations of the former COAS need not be stretched beyond proportions. The Opposition should also desist from glamourising suicide as a brave act, as it would prove as an incentive for sick minds to take extreme step. Also, such a glamourisation may lead to unscrupulous elements in politics to abet suicides for achieving political objectives.
While all hearts go to the family of Subedar Grewal at this hour of crisis and agony, the political patronage in terms of compensating the deaths could prove motivational factor for depressed persons to take their lives. There is also apprehension of vested interests abetting suicides for monetary gains. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has already announced Rs 1 Crore as compensation for the veterans’ family. He is also being projected as a martyr even though the veterans have vehemently opposed politicisation of the army.
The political class better ponder over the discourse they have taken after the suicide of Subedar Grewal. Will similar solidarity be shown towards the farmers who have been committing suicide every other day? Suicide rate is the highest in India with 1.34 lakh persons committing suicide in 2013. The World Health Organisation listed India as one of the countries with the highest suicide rates at 21.1 per 100,000 people in 2012. It is a universal truth that untreated depression and mental illness are the main cause for suicide, which is why Mental Health Care Bill 2013 had been mooted to decriminalize suicide. Pending its passage, the Rajya Sabha was told on 24th February 2015 that a proposal to delete Section 309 from the Indian Penal Code had been sent to the Legislative Department of the Ministry of Law and Justice for drawing up a draft Amendment Bill. On 8th August 2016 finally this Bill was passed in the Upper House of Parliament.
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