Security Scan – Central Armed Police Forces
The Central Armed Police Forces include the BSF, CRPF, ITBP, CISF and SSB. These five forces come under the Home Ministry and are a sizeable entity. They number almost 9 lakhs or close to a million personnel. Each force is headed by a Director General drawn from the Indian Police Service. Often referred to as paramilitary which is not quite accurate, they are essentially armed police as the nomenclature indicates. However, over the last seven decades, the tasking of the CAPFs has become more intense and complex in the pursuit of national security particularly in the internal security domain. Some of them like the BSF, ITBP and the SSB serve on the borders in very difficult conditions. The BSF came into adverse focus recently over a social media post that went viral. It dwelt on the poor quality of food served to personnel on the border and triggered national outrage but in a transient manner as is the pattern with the social media.
Problems faced by these forces:
Borders are guarded day in and day out by these personnel standing as sentinels. The internal security totally impinges upon the capabilities of CAPF. It is the job of leadership to address the complaints being made by a Jawan properly. The Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials which is a UN direction given to all police forces in the world, Article 8 states that in case a person is aggrieved, he can go to the highest authority directly and in Europe, he can even go to the press. But the way, this issue has been raised, it might be detrimental to the reputation of the force among common peole.
BSF played a very important role in 1971 war. The organizations like CISF and ITBP have been very crucial in controlling militancy in North Eastern states. There is a growing realization in India now that military or army cannot be used for taking on militancy or specialized law and order duties and this is where the CAPFs are very important. There is a need to build a sense of confidence among tribal people that these forces are deployed for their safety as often, common people are unable to connect with them in the tribal areas.
There is a lot of wastage of manpower. When a State Government is given a CAPF, they like to retain it as long as they can do so due to which other states requiring them are starved of it. The Home Ministry succumbs to the political pressure from a particular state. Home Ministry is least concerned about the problems, needs and requirements of the Jawans. Some them work without having a holiday for even once in 6 months.
Initially when the BSF was raised, it did not have senior officers of its own cadre. After more than 60 years of its inception, BSF is now matured enough to have its own senior officers. There should be a review to have senior cadre officers to head the post. The roles of all these five forces are different. BSF has to guard the borders, CRPF has to be on internal security duties and ITBP is always on places at high altitudes. Each force must have specialization and the IPS officers can come in at one particular time and at a younger age so that they can be groomed as per the requirements of the force.
In CAPF as well as in police, there are four levels of entry whereas in army there are two levels of entry. After every entry, there is a 50 percent promotion from ranks and 50 percent from direct entry. Therefore, there is a feeling among the officers promoted this way that will not be able to match the levels of the officers recruited directly. Hence, the levels of entry have to be at least two as this will improve the quality of leadership with better confidence level among these people.
CAPFs are a very important part of the national security edifice and in need of holistic review. A number of committees on this subject have submitted detailed and forward looking reports but yet a lot has to be done. India’s comprehensive security wherein an external and internal overlap warrants a complete, empathetic and radical overhaul. This also includes state police and intelligence agencies. A constable or jawan at the bottom of the pyramid is the most important element in the overall security of the nation and therefore, their recruitment and training require urgent attention. The CAPF personnel represent the backbone and muscle of these forces and need their due share of care and attention they deserve.