Give The Central Armed Police Forces Their Due
- The Central Armed Police Forces, now declared the Armed Forces of the Union, form the first line of defence against both external and internal enemies.
- Over the last ten years, 32 officers and 1000 men from CAPF have sacrificed their lives while fighting against terrorists and Naxalites.
- Yet, the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme agreed for the defence forces has been denied to the CAPFs.
- There is an inherent ruling class conspiracy of pitching one oppressed class (CRPF personnel) against another oppressed class (marginalized tribals).
A few weeks ago, India was in a state of unofficial mourning, not because of the loss of seven brave Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers at Dantewada in Chhattisgarh but because their cricket team had lost a World T20 match against the West Indies.
All news channels were brainstorming in order to figure out the reasons for such a catastrophe (losing a cricket match that broke a billion hearts), while sacrifices made by the CRPF soldiers made no news. No television news channel exhibited any importance to the news of seven unarmed CRPF personnel being blown into pieces by Naxals at Dantewada.
These incidences do not become a subject of countrywide condemnation. Neither are editorials written on these issues nor does prime time television take them up. There are no candle light marches, and the people at India Gate or Jantar Mantar are never seen protesting against such killings. The human rights activists and the progressives are mysteriously silent. It does not make any difference to them if CRPF personnel are blown into pieces. Nobody is seeking ‘azadi’ from such dastardly acts. These people are no ‘Akhalaqs’ and no ‘Rohith Vemulas’. No tears are required to be shed for them.
The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), also commonly referred to as ‘para military’, consists of five security organisations: the CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP and SSB. These Forces have been declared as the Armed Forces of the Union through different Acts of Parliament by which these were raised. They are our first line of defence against both external and internal enemies, but suffer with all the disadvantages of being equated to the civil services, despite living and performing duties in the most difficult circumstances.
Life of the CAPF personnel in Chhattisgarh is a case in point. This author once got a surprise phone call from a junior who was serving in a forest area in Chhattisgarh. His mobile phone would perennially remain out of the covering area. He said that he was talking from the top of a tall tree, which he had just climbed in the night so that his mobile phone gets some signals. These are the people who are tasked with the responsibility of maintaining internal security in this country.
This includes deployment at the forward posts on the international borders as in the case of BSF and ITBP; fighting Left Wing Extremism (LWE), referred to as Naxals in common parlance, and anti-insurgency operations against secessionist organisations in northeastern states, as in the case of the CRPF; and securing the industrial and strategic installations as in the case of CISF.
One can’t gainsay that the responsibility of guarding India’s national security lies with the CAPFs as of now. This situation has come about because the definition and character of the word ‘enemy’ has undergone a complete transformation post the 1971 era. Now, the enemy has infiltrated into the country and is not restricted only to the borders. Over 200 districts and seven states of India are affected by violent Naxal activity.
In the last 10 years, 32 officers and 1000 men from the CAPFs have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty and more than 7500 men have suffered serious injuries fighting terrorists and Naxals. Sadly, these are unheralded soldiers. Their supreme sacrifices for the motherland have seldom been acknowledged by the Government, the media or the civil society. Their positions in the Government’s schemes have gone from bad to worse.
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