New Delhi: Against the backdrop of recent suicides and fratricides by jawans and stand-offs between them and officers, Defence Minister AK Antony on Thursday asked the armed forces to adopt a liberal approach to jawans` pleas for leave and respond promptly.
Chairing a meeting to review cases of fratricides and suicides in armed forces, Antony directed the Ministry officials to talk to the Railways Ministry to ensure that jawans get confirmed reservations in trains while going on leave, Ministry officials said here.
"At the meeting, Defence Minister said the three Services should ensure that all the leave applications of jawans are responded to promptly by their officers-in-charge and adopt a liberal approach in this regard," they said.
The meeting comes after the Defence Minister told Parliament that a stand-off between officers and soldiers of an armoured unit had taken place on August 8 after the suicide of a jawan.
In the same written reply, the Minister had said over 25,000 soldiers had quit the force in the last three years pre-maturely. Over 57 Army jawans have committed suicide this year due to several reasons.
The Defence Minister said the case of setting up redressal cells for looking into the problems of armed forces personnel at all district headquarters should be taken up with all Chief Ministers and Lieutenant Governors in Union Territories.
"He also instructed to take steps to sensitise District Collectors and Superintendents of Police (SP) to take effective and prompt steps to mitigate the problems of armed forces personnel and their families," officials said.
The Defence Minister also asked the officials of DRDO to suggest comprehensive steps to reduce stress-level among jawans and officers.
He also ordered a separate study to be conducted for reducing stress among officers.
The meeting was attended by Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, Additional Secretary Shankar Agarwal and the three Services Vice Chiefs.