Identity Crisis

As a result of short sighted policies, the CRPF is now training for the job of the police

Dilip Kumar Mekala

CRPF Academy KhadarpurHad the short sighted policies and indifferent leadership not hijacked it, the Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF) could have been easily called the best paramilitary force in the country. Unfortunately, the oldest and biggest paramilitary force is currently in danger of reducing down to no more than just a police force. Interestingly enough, some of the inspector generals already started calling themselves inspector generals of police, deputy inspector generals became deputy inspector general of police, and so on. But what is in a name anyway? How does it really matter if some of the officers in CRPF started identifying themselves as police personnel when the Constitution recognises them as the paramilitary?

In the current circumstances, despite being the largest paramilitary force, majority of CRPF battalions were deployed in aid to state police. Counter insurgency and support to state police calls for a different mindset. Till today, the policy-makers at the ministry of home affairs have not been able to resolve this dichotomy. But with the growing menace of Left-wing extremism and the demand for CRPF, the ministry recently laboured over the roles and missions of the force. The CRPF, however, remains an ambiguous entity with the roles on the ground portraying a completely different picture from the Act. As a result of this confusion, CRPF personnel started training with police personnel in various states to cater to the immediate needs.

For example, Mahila CRPF Battalion, which handles similar roles of that of the NSG commandos, trains with the Rajasthan state police instead of the NSG commandos in Manesar. Also, some of the CRPF personnel undergo training in Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare school of Chattisgarh state police as opposed to the CIJW school of the CRPF in Vairangte or Shivpuri. Police is a state subject and the role of the state police is to maintain the law and order in the state. The training standards for law and order and the counter insurgency cannot be equated. Needless to say there are deficiencies in such training modules.

Not only had the indifferent leadership affected the training of the CRPF, the short sighted policies equally added to the damage. Ministry of home affairs (MHA), not happy with the title of paramilitary, in an office memorandum issued on 18 March 2011 and sent to all central police organisations under the ministry, made it clear that, “Henceforth, in all reference to the forces mentioned above (BSF, CRPF, CISF, ITBP and SSB) a uniform nomenclature of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) shall be adopted.” According to the memorandum, the reason for this was, “The terms like… Central Para Military Police Forces (CPMFs), Paramilitary Forces (PMFs)… create an incorrect perception about these central forces and the expectations from the force become unrealistic.”

Through this memo, the ministry eased the burden of improving training standards for its forces, the worst-affected of which is the CRPF, primarily because of rapid raisings without commensurate training infrastructure and staff. There have been instances of new CRPF raisings undergoing pre-induction training at the Group Centre because the institutes/centres did not have the capacity to accommodate so many people.

FORCE visited CRPF academy in Gurgaon recently to get a sense of the training that the officers underwent. The officers trained in the academy would later take over as company commanders in the LWE theatre. It is a sprawling campus with a good infrastructure that can effortlessly accommodate 150 Directly Appointed Gazatted Officers (DAGO) at a time. The MHA, indifferent to all these details, asked the CRPF academy to train 426 officers last year- more than twice of what the academy is capable of handling.

Disappointed by the decision of the MHA, then director H. R. Singh wrote a letter stating that the academy is not in a position to handle more than 300 officers and the remaining batch of recruits was suggested to train in Central Training College (CTC), Coimbatore. “The capacity of the academy was 150 officers from the number of rooms available. I made it double by making it twin-sharing and included 300 officers”, Singh said in an interview to FORCE. But this is not just about the rooms anymore. The same set of trainers in the campus now handles twice the number of CRPF men in every training module.

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