Disquiet in the Forces

In recent years there has been a sharp increase in the number of soldiers quitting the CAPFs

Younis Ahmad Kaloo

In March this year, a report in one of the national dailies talked of the increasing number of officers and soldiers quitting the central paramilitary/ Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) mid career. The report quoted the written reply that Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju tabled in Parliament.

BSF soldiers during an operation

Quoting a few retired and serving officers, the report attributed this growing trend to the tough working conditions in the forces and the availability of better career opportunities in the private sector. While agreeing with the ‘tough life’ part, former Inspector General Police (IGP) Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) VPS Panwar refused to accept the contention that people are quitting the forces for better career opportunities outside.

“There is no opportunity at all. Voluntary retirement is witnessed in Naxal areas and the reason behind this is the personnel deployed there feels that the government does not compensate them as much as their services demand. There is no pension. Neither are they given the status of martyrs. So, who is going there to die?” he reasoned.

The former IGP also doubted the figures shared by the government in which in 2017 alone as many as 14,587 personnel, including gazetted officers of CAPFs, resigned or took voluntary retirement as compared to 3,422 in 2015. He said, “The actual figures exceed far more than what they have shown. It is just half of the number of people who go home and never return. Their families tell them ‘if you have to die, die here. You won’t get anything dying there’.”

As of 31 January 2018, 27,862 soldiers and officers of central paramilitary forces have resigned or taken voluntary retirement since 2015. Among these, 11,198 personnel belonged to the Border Security Force (BSF) and 10,620 were from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the largest of the paramilitary forces.

“The second reason is the people were waiting for the awards of Seventh Pay Commission. I had written to the government before the Seventh Pay Commission that those who are seniors, between the age of 40 and 50, sub-officers and inspectors will all leave. If you look at the data, these are the people who have left because they were waiting for the Seventh Pay Commission awards,” said Panwar.

“Government was warned to have a plan in place, but they care a fig about it. It is because those responsible for planning are outsiders, and not from the respective forces,” he added.

Going deeper into the issue, the ex-IGP said, “The root cause of all this is the strength of paramilitary forces under the ministry of home affairs (MHA) is equal to the army, which has a separate ministry. While as the MHA has hundreds of things to look after, this (paramilitary) constitutes a little bit of part time work of the ministry and thus, there is very little emphasis placed on it. They are being misused. CAPFs are called armed forces but they don’t get any of the benefits given to the armed forces.

“If you see the army, navy and air force act, nowhere will you find these forces referred to as the armed forces. But they get all benefits of the armed forces. Whereas, in our act it is clearly mentioned yet we get no such benefits. We don’t say they are less than us. They are at the top and tomorrow if there is war with China or Pakistan, they will be the ones to fight them, not us. But compensate us as much as you should.”

Lamenting the hierarchical setup in the forces in which top positions are held by those on deputation, VPS Panwar said, “All our experience is a total waste. You see, our people of 1985 batch are only deputy commandants and 2ICs, they (outsiders) come as IGs”.

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