As we induct new equipment based on new threats, we impart training in handling of that equipment as well as in new technologies
What has been the contribution of the CRPF in the nation’s fight against Covid-19?
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is the largest internal security force in India. It is spread all over the country. In terms of establishments alone, it is located in about 400 places. In terms of company deployments, we have more than 1,200 company post. This will give you a sense of our outreach. It is because of this outreach that when Covid-19 pandemic began, the CRPF was able to contribute in different arenas.
To start with, first we understood the fundamentals of Covid-19 ourselves and then increased the awareness within the force. Having learnt this, not only the force adapted to the Covid-19 challenge, but we also built a common Covid inventory. We realised that we needed the masks in large numbers. Hence, we set up the machines ourselves to produce three-ply masks. Soon the CRPF Family Welfare Association joined in the effort and started stitching the cloth masks.
Once we realised that our troops would be coming in contact with a large number of people, we started to produce PPE kits. As our community interface increased, we started holding various types of inventories including hand-washing agents and sanitizers.
We told the government that since we have a lot of manpower spread across the country, we will be able to contribute more. The government was kind enough to give us Rs 10 crore. So, we started supplying the Covid inventories, like masks and sanitisers, to the community too. We extended protection to the migrants and also supplied food and immunity-boosting material to them. What’s more, we established our quarantine centres. We prepared our hospitals for stage 1 of Covid. These facilities were extended not only to force personnel but also to civilians.
As part of our civic action programme, we carried out awareness drives in the community. We made small films of our bands playing different tunes. We conducted poster competition among children on Covid-19. We have a digital platform ‘Madadgar’, which we had sanctioned for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, including those who live in other parts of the country. It is pan-India platform. We spoke to the ministry of home affairs (MHA) and converted the ‘Madadgar’ line to deal with Covid-19 problems. We were getting requisitions from all over the country because it’s a digital platform and a click away. We also liaisoned with the local police and district administration whenever we received a distress call on ‘Madadgar’ from anywhere in the country. It was helpful.
In fact, ‘Madadgar’ went beyond Covid-19. We received other types of distress calls also. For instance, somebody’s father was very ill and the person was away. So, we managed his travel home, which couldn’t have happened because of the lockdown. ‘Madadgar’ also became a tele-medicine helpline. We provided medicines to people who could not go to the hospitals due to the lockdown or other constraints.
Our troops also helped the migrants and we are very proud of our soldiers for their service. In one case, a pregnant migrant, who was a resident of Jammu was stuck. She had no money. The CRPF platoon, which was the closest to her, contributed money and gifted her Rs 30,000. The platoon also facilitated the delivery of the child. The force also contributed one day’s salary, more than Rs 33 crore, to PM-CARES relief fund.
How do you assess the internal security situation today, particularly on the triple axes of terrorism, Left-Wing Extremism and insurgency?
The internal security of the situation is very dynamic and oscillating but the CRPF has a huge experience, being over 80 years old. Even if we ignore the pre-Independence time, in post-Independent India, the CRPF was the first force with a lot of experience in the integration of states at the time of Sardar Patel. It dealt with various law and order situations. It was the first striking force, quick to reach. It has dealt with both the Naga and the Jammu and Kashmir insurgencies along with other forces. It is because of our experience that the force has been growing in number and deployment.
We have good synergy with all other forces, whether state and other central forces. In terms of training and equipment, we already have the capacity to build more. The morale is high. So, we are able to do well in Jammu and Kashmir. This year we have neutralised more than 100 militants. In LWE, we neutralised more than a dozen Maoists leaders; and an equal number have surrendered. We also arrested quite a few support elements of the Naxals. The Northeast is comparatively peaceful. But we have been able to make recoveries and arrest of certain groups with a history of violence. The force has been performing well but we have to constantly be on our toes. We have to be proactive all the time. We have made inroads not only in the hideouts of the adversary but have also been able to gain the confidence of the community in all the theatres that we operate in—Jammu and Kashmir, LWE and the Northeast. That’s how we get intelligence and information.
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