“The government talks a lot about nationalism and the security forces who are protecting the country from the enemies. However, it does a very little for them when it comes to protecting them and their families,” were the words of a CRPF jawan. His opinion reflects the thoughts of thousands of CRPF jawans, who are ‘treated badly’, despite being deployed in mostly insurgency-hit regions.
In the deadliest Maoist attack on security forces since 2010, 25 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans were killed in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district on April 24. The Naxal assault on the paramilitary forces was reported in the south Bastar region, a hotbed of Left-wing extremism.
“Most of the CRPF jawans have lost their faith in the system. They are made scapegoats by the government in war against the Naxals, as well as against the separatists in Kashmir,” said VPS Pawar, IG CRPF (Retired)
“The paramilitary forces have more to lose than to gain. The job benefits are very low in comparison to the army whereas the chances of death on duty and off duty are considerably high,” he added.
After speaking to the concerned people, InUth found that apart from the problems of Maoists that the personnel face, there are several other factors which affect the lives of our jawans. Their disillusionment seems to be justified on various grounds.
Politicians and the governments express their grief and condemn the attacks on the paramilitary forces, however, there are many issues which are neither highlighted nor the government takes any step to resolve them to provide a better life to these jawans. Here are a few things that the “government does not want you to know”:
There’s no one to lead the jawans
The CRPF has not had a full-time DG since February, even as the country’s largest paramilitary force has at least 38 personnel during this period. After KD Prasad’s retirement, as the last full-time chief of CRPF, nobody has been appointed to the full-time post.
The jawans feel that the absence of DG is felt during such situations when CRPF personnel are dying in Maoist attacks.
CRPF is led by less experienced people
“Even if the DG is appointed, there will not be any significant impact. The problem with the government is that they generally appoint IPS officers as DG, who know nothing about the functioning of CRPF. We are paramilitary and not a police force,” said Pawar.
“The DG should ideally be appointed from within the force, who has lived in insurgency-hit regions and has served the force for 20-30 years. The bigger crisis is the lack of leadership and command than the Maoist attacks, he added.
No pension for CRPF troopers
“Despite working in tough conditions, the CRPF jawans get nothing when compared with the Army. There is discrimination between the Army and the paramilitary personnel. While the former are given pension, the latter are kept away from it even after 20 years of service,” said a former paramilitary personnel.
Forces are exhausted and are not even allowed to complete their training. “In my 38 years of service, I never saw a jawan complete his training because they were deployed to some insurgency-hit area in the middle of their training,” said the retired CRPF IG.
“The problem is that the paramilitary forces are exhausted. at least 90 per cent personnel of the 3 lakh strong force is always on duty and are deployed in troubled areas of the country. They don’t get time to rest and recuperate. They are not even allowed to get proper training,” he added.
Depression, suicides, and health issues kill more CRPF jawans than Maoists
Depression, suicides, and heart attacks have killed more CRPF troops, over 24 times higher, than operations and ambushes in Naxal violence-hit areas in the last two years.
Union Minister of State for Home Hansraj G Ahir had recently provided a data in this regard in Rajya Sabha, stating 5 CRPF men were killed in 2015, 31 in 2016 and 13 upto April 4 this year in Chhattisgarh, Bihar, and Jharkhand.
As compared to on-duty deaths, 476 personnel died in 2016, while 407 died in 2015 owing to non-operational reasons.
The data for last year shows 92 CRPF personnel died due to heart attacks, five due to malaria and dengue, 26 owing to depression and suicide and 353 due to other non-operational reasons.
Similarly, in 2015, 82 jawans died due to heart attacks, 13 due to dengue or malaria, 35 due to depression and suicides while 277 lost their lives due to other reasons.
“The reason for such deaths is lack of proper medical and healthcare facilities. Also, since these CRPF personnel don’t get proper time to rest and recuperate, they commit suicide out of frustration or depression,” explained Pawar.
Although most of their time is spent in fighting the insurgents, unlike Army they are provided with no special facilities. The basic amenities have become a luxury for them. They are said to be given low-quality food, torn tents, few medical facilities and hardly any leave.
Hope the government takes considerable steps to save the lives of those protecting the country.