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17 March 2023: Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)

Context: 

  • Last month, a day of remembrance for the Pulwama incident was observed. The attack on February 14, 2019, claimed the lives of 40 members of India’s largest paramilitary force, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
  • Prior to this sad day, on April 6, 2010, 76 CRPF soldiers were killed by a group of left-wing extremists in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district.
  • It is still the bloodiest attack on security personnel in independent India’s counterinsurgency or anti-terrorist operations.

Key highlight:

  • It is unsurprising that a day of memory was used to express pent-up emotions of discrimination against the regular military services (the Indian Army, the Indian Navy, and the Indian Air Force) in areas ranging from pension to service facilities such as the Canteen Stores Department.

Internal security scenario in the country:

  • The country’s internal security situation has improved marginally, particularly in insurgency-affected northeast India. Yet, there has been “insignificant progress” in areas of left-wing extremism as well as terrorist-affected Kashmir. This is when the point regarding deployment levels comes into play.

Major concerns:

  • The Indian Army has been deinducted, with the CRPF filling the vacancy primarily. As a result, people in these forces are still entrusted with doing difficult tasks and are overworked without any breaks or relaxation. As a result, training suffers.
  • The importance of refining tactical skills cannot be overstated since it would have a negative impact on any force’s operational capabilities, rendering them vulnerable to covert attacks by anti-national forces.
  • These tested yet tired troops can only achieve and sustain the required level of performance if their personnel’s training and morale are taken care of. Without resolving these issues, no amount of powerful weapons or technology would be able to achieve the intended results.

Grievances of India’s paramilitary forces:

  • What distinguishes this year’s Pulwama Day from previous years is the significant turnout of former soldiers and their families in various areas of the nation to seek the reinstatement of the old pension plan for serving members of the fraternity. The old pension system was phased out for individuals hired after December 31, 2003.
  • They highlighted a December 2022 Delhi High Court ruling that reaffirmed their existence as a force under the ‘Armed Forces of the Union’ category.
  • The fraternity is disappointed that, despite living in a warlike environment on a daily basis, which is acknowledged by the public and the judiciary, the government is hesitant to provide the paramilitary with these rights.

Way forward:

  • The primary purpose of commemorating Pulwama Day should be to prevent a repetition of that tragic day in 2019.
  • The lessons learned must be evaluated and remedial actions implemented. When public opinion appears to be mobilized in favour of the paramilitary forces, it would be only reasonable and fitting for the government to listen to the legitimate concerns of the personnel of the forces involved.
  • This staff’s morale must be maintained. It would assist the nation’s security situation if paramilitary soldiers felt treated on par with equivalent personnel in the defence forces.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF):

  • It is the premier and largest CAPF in India for internal security.
  • It is under the command of the IPS (Director General).
  • Background:
    • Founded in 1939 as the ‘Crown Representative Police’ in Neemuch, MP, in response to political unrest and agitation in the then-princely states of India and the ever-growing desire of the Crown Representative (Governor-general) to assist the vast majority of native states in maintaining law and order as part of imperial policy,
    • On December 28, 1949, the force was renamed the CRPF by an Act of Parliament.
  • Role of the CRPF:
    • Crowd control
    • Riot control
    • Counter-militancy and insurgency operations
    • Dealing with Left-Wing Extremism
    • Overall coordination of large-scale security arrangements, especially with regard to elections in disturbed areas,
    • Protection of VIPs and vital installations
    • Checking environmental degradation and protecting local flora and fauna
    • Fighting aggression during wartime
    • Participating in a UN Peacekeeping Mission
    • Rescue and relief operations at the time of natural calamities

Source: The Hindu, CRPF Website, PIB

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