Soldiers more important than arms they carry: Parrikar

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Panaji, Nov 30: When it comes to the country's defence, military personnel are more important than their weapons, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said Sunday, largely blaming man-management issues for the spate of suicides in India's armed forces.

Parrikar, in Goa on a three-day visit, said while he had asked his ministry to explain the reasons behind the suicides, issues like prolonged deployment in remote areas, their welfare and quick redressal mechanisms were being worked out.

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Ninety-nine soldiers committed suicide in 2014.

"I believe that more than armaments, the person behind it is a stronger defence for the country," Parrikar told reporters here.

The former Goa chief minister largely blamed man-management conflict for suicides among military personnel.

"According to me, it is a man-management issue. I think it has to be resolved in two-three ways.

"One is counseling. The others are issues of service personnel (which) have to be addressed. Quick redressal mechanism is one of the solutions. More tribunals, more informal arrangements (have to be created) to solve the problems," Parrikar said.

He said soldiers need to be supported better by providing them with family accommodation, which could resolve the issue of isolation, which soldiers feel when they are away from their family for long periods.

When pointed out that in case of suicide by soldiers, the finger often pointed to the possible harassment by his superior officer, Parrikar said that while one cannot intervene in inter-personal relationships at every point, "by making a redressal mechanism, it can be resolved".

"There are many issues. My clear direction is to improve welfare measures for them (military personnel). Army's welfare is one of the most important aspects which I am tackling," Parrikar said.

IANS

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