Wednesday, April 14, 2010

So why can't CRPF hold on to its men?

Courtesy: Mail Today

Aman Sharma
New Delhi, April 14, 2010

Despair seems to have become the reigning emotion among the ranks of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

The morale of the paramilitary personnel is at an all-time low ever since 76 CRPF men were massacred by Maoists in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district a week ago, sparking fears of a sudden efflux of officers from the force.

The attrition figures of the CRPF for the past three years - ever since it took the lead in the fight against Maoists - are none too encouraging.

Since 2007, about 7,027 CRPF men have quit the force or opted for voluntary retirement. Of these, about 6,270 personnel were from the "fighting force" - which include ranks ranging from constables to inspectors - and were deployed as soldiers on the field.

Ninety-one were field leaders, including commandants, deputy commandants and assistant commandants.

CRPF officials on Tuesday admitted that the last posting of most of the men who quit the force since 2007 was in Naxal-hit areas.

Last year, when Union home minister P. Chidambaram drew up a plan to take on the Naxalites in a coordinated operation for the first time, as many as 3,855 CRPF personnel put in their papers.

This was twice the CRPF attrition rate of 1,791 in 2008.

According to a CRPF officer, the basic reason behind this was the fact that Naxal- affected states have not been designated " highly active field areas" for counter-insurgency operations, unlike Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.

This means a CRPF man stationed in a Naxal-hit area earns Rs 5,000- 6,000 less than his counterpart in J& K each month.

"A CRPF man is happier to serve in Jammu & Kashmir and the Northeast rather than the Naxal- affected areas. The government has designated these states as highly active field areas. This means a CRPF constable working in J& K or the Northeast would get nearly Rs 5,000-6,000 a month more than his counterparts who are also risking their lives in Maoist strongholds. This means a lot for a constable who draws Rs 10,000 a month as salary," the officer said.

"The Centre is stuck in a time warp. It has not realised that the biggest internal security threat is from the Naxalites rather than J& K or the Northeast," he added.

Officials in the Union home ministry said they had been trying hard for paramilitary personnel in Maoist areas to get the 'highly active field area' allowance. However, they said the Union ministries of defence as well as finance were sitting on the proposal and were yet to give their nod.

"It is the army which decides whether to designate an area as a highly active field. But it believes only the Northeast and J& K come under this category," a home ministry official said.

Because Naxal-hit states do not come under this "coveted" category, a CRPF jawan cannot retain his family quarters at his last place of posting in case he is transferred to a Maoist land.

"So, if a jawan is posted in a Naxal-hit area, he has no choice but to send his family back to his village. This hits the morale badly," the CRPF officer said.

Dismal Figures:

About 7,027 CRPF men have quit the force since 2007.

Of these, 6,270 personnel were those who were deployed on field.

91 were field leaders including commandants, deputy commandants and assistant commandants

As many as 3,855 CRPF men filed their resignation papers in 2009 when P. Chidambaram announced the plan to take on the Naxalites in a coordinated operation

This was twice the attrition figure of 1,791 in 2008 Most Naxal- affected states have not been designated highly active field areas, unlike Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast. This means a CRPF man stationed in a Naxal- hit area earns Rs 5,000- 6,000 less than his counterpart in J& K each month.

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