New Delhi: More Border Security Force (BSF) personnel have died of heart attack and other illnesses than in action on the borders and anti-Naxal operations in the past two years, according to official data.
While men and women of the country's largest border guarding force BSF face enemy bullets and mortars amid recent hostilities with Pakistan, data reveals that only 25 of total 774 deaths in the period between January 2015 and September 2016 were battle casualties.
Data showed that while a total of 25 personnel were killed in action, 316 died due to a variety of diseases and illnesses and 117 suffered fatal cardiac arrest. While the cases of deaths due to HIV/AIDS and malaria have gone down in the paramilitary force during the period, fatal casualties of personnel in rail, road and bike accidents continue.
Officials said these remained a "cause of worry". Amongst the other causes of death in the force during the period are: 192 deaths took place due to road or Railway accidents, 18 lost their lives due to HIV/AIDS, 38 due to cancer and five owing to malaria.
"The force lost 774 personnel during the period, out of which only 25 were battle casualties. This is a cause of worry and these numbers need to be brought down. A number of initiatives are being taken to ensure a healthy lifestyle and safe driving habits amongst the personnel," a senior official said.
Last year, former BSF Director General D K Pathak had told PTI that the about 250,000 personnel strong force was witnessing a worrying trend in its ranks, as it was losing four times more troops in off-duty bike accidents, than at the borders or other conflict theatres in the hinterland in the recent past.
The Border Security Force (BSF) is tasked to secure the two most important borders of India with Pakistan and Bangladesh, besides being deployed for a variety of internal security duties including anti-Maoist operations.