The Police Commemoration Day is observed on October 21st every year. Since Independence, 34,418 Police personnel have sacrificed their lives for safeguarding the integrity of the nation and providing security to people of this country. During the last one year, from September 2016 to August 2017, 383 Police personnel have laid down their lives.
The sacrifices of the members of Police or Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) make no news. No TV channel exhibited any importance to the news of seven unarmed CRPF personnel blown into pieces by naxals at Dantewada, Chhattisgarh.
These incidences do not become a subject of countrywide condemnation. Editorials are not written on it in the newspapers nor the primetime TV screens are going black. There is no candle light march nor people are at India Gate or Jantar Mantar protesting against such killings. The human rights vendors and progressives are mysteriously and unapologetically silent. It does not make a difference to them if the CRPF personnel are blown in to pieces. Nobody is seeking ‘azadi’ from such dastardly acts. These people are no ‘Nirbhayas’, 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, consist of five security organisations with the names of 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 or internal enemies but suffer with all the disadvantages of being equated to the civil services inspite of living and performing duties in the most difficult circumstances and sometimes in worse conditions than that of defence services.
Life of a CAPF personnel in Chhattisgarh is a case in point. This author once got a surprise phone call from a junior serving in a forest area in Chhattisgarh whose mobile phone would perennially remain out of the covering area. He said that he was talking from the top of a high tree which he had just climbed in the night so that his mobile phone gets some signals. The malaria deaths of CAPF personnel serving in forest areas for anti- naxal operations have no counts. These are the people who are tasked with the responsibility of the maintenance of internal security in this country. This includes the deployment at the forward posts on the international borders as in the case of BSF, ITBP; fighting Left Wing Extremism (LWE), referred as Naxals in common parlance and anti- insurgency operations against the secessionist organisations in NE States as in the case of the CRPF and securing the industrial and strategic installations as in the case of CISF.
It will not be gainsaying that as of now the responsibility of guarding against the enemies of national security lies with these CAPFs. This situation has come about because the definition and character of ‘enemy’ has undergone a complete transformation in post 1971 era. Pakistan is fighting ‘low intensity war’ and they plan to bleed us for ‘thousand years’. Now the enemy has infiltrated within the country and are not restricted only at the borders. Over 200 districts and 07 states of this country are affected with violent naxal activities. In the last 10 years, 32 officers and 1000 men from CAPFs have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty and more than 7500 men have suffered serious injuries fighting terrorists and naxals. But sadly these are unheralded and ‘not so elite’ type soldiers. Their supreme sacrifices for the motherland have seldom been acknowledged by the Government, media, intelligentsia and the civil society. Their positions in the Govt’s schemes and perceptions have gone from bad to worse.
Till the 3rd Pay Commission, the CAPFs were placed differently and had a separate pay scale. The 3rd Pay Commission brought them at par with the civilian staffs and from the year 2004, they have even been denied pension after retirement notwithstanding their status as an Armed Force of the Union. Can we imagine a CAPF personnel disabled in an operation, medically boarded out of the Force and left without pension fending for himself? But this is the truth. Now they have to contribute for their pension like civilian staffs. Recently the Government has agreed for One Rank One Pension (OROP) for the defence forces, but have denied the same to the CAPFs.
The defence forces are led by their own officers who would have served for 35-40 years in different position within the same organisation before heading them. The heads of defence forces fought and got the OROP for their men and officers. Unfortunately the CAPFs are headed by IPS officers coming on deputation for 2-3 years with little or no idea about the organisation they are heading and as such CAPFs are technically and literally orphans in the system and have no one to represent their case before the Government or a Pay Commission. This is one of the many misfortunes of CAPFs.
In this country, certain sections of media and intelligentsia including the younger generation can be seen romanticizing with the Maoists ideology. The Urban Perspective Plan of 2004 of the Maoists proposes to enter trade unions, unemployed, students and intellectuals. It seems that they have got a fair bit of success in this endeavour.
It is glamorous, intellectually fascinating for many in academia to talk about ‘displacements of tribal,’ ‘corporate exploitation’ and ‘human rights violation’ etc. They are basically the front organisations which the Maoists have created to use State structures and legal processes to further their agenda and discredit and demoralise the enforcement regime. The Maoists are also taking the support of external forces, inimical to India but for the Maoists they are the ‘ strategic assets’.
The leftist intellectuals with a misplaced belief in ‘ revolutionary armed struggle’ and ‘protracted peoples war’, provide a face to cover the violent nature of Maoism and use their social and academic positions for propaganda and glorification of the this doctrine. Naxal agitation started basically as a socio economic movement but has now become a monster and the most serious threat to the national security. It is said to be the result of a perpetual discriminatory and exploitative State policy to the marginalised tribal societies. Hence the violent rebuttal by the naxals. Unfortunately, the CAPFs are now made to shed their blood to undo the wrongs of the political leadership and a heartless nation wouldn’t have cared less to their sacrifice. They are not even called ‘martyrs’, this honour is reserved for the defence forces only.
The list of problems of CAPF personnel are manyfold –infrastructural deficiencies, shortages of transport and arms and ammunition, poor personnel management, chaotic deployment, ineffective coordination between the state police and the CAPF leadership, absence of a robust in-house grievance redressal mechanism, lack of promotional prospects for the constabulary and the direct recruit officers, delays in procurement of combat-ready equipment and inadequate medical facilities and the list goes on and on. The Union Home Minister is happy attending ‘Raising Day’ functions of CAPFs and the Central Govt has blissfully left the leadership of the entire establishment in the hands of roughly a dozen or two IPS officers who are the Kings for over a million strong CAPF. And we all know that a “King can do no wrong”.