“Joining CRPF was the biggest mistake of my life. I have realized that the country doesn’t honor its soldiers and it is better to take voluntary retirement after 20 years of service than to be treated as a pawn” says an anonymous CRPF jawan. His opinion reflects the thoughts of thousands of CRPF jawans who have been treated worse than a cattle both by the state and their departments.
Most of the soldiers in the paramilitary forces like Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have lost their faith in the system and think they are being used as scape goats by government in war against the Naxals.
Compared to the army, 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 are considerably high.
If we examine the current situation of CRPF, we find that their disillusionment may be justified on various grounds. The problem needs to be seen in context of two major issues :-
1. On-duty deaths
2. Voluntary Retirement Schemes
Insurgency is undoubtedly one of the biggest problems in the country. The force is mostly deployed in Naxal effected areas over the last 5 years and has been witnessing the game of life and death everyday. The soldiers are expected to fight insurgents without proper strategic and military support. The encounter with Naxalites is a routine affair for them.
The Naxalites are well aware of the internal areas and they use it to their advantage. They are experts in Guerrilla warfare tactics and successfully trap their prey. Their strategy is to exhaust enemy’s gun power and inflict maximum damage. First, they fire at the security forces and then take a different way to surround the forces from a different direction. The reinforcements which hardly last some hours are soon exhausted in the encounter. The jawans are left to the mercy of the enemy who never spares them. Various other reasons also contribute to the failure of tackling the Naxal issue.
Reasons for failure to tackle the Naxal Problem:-
1. The Naxals communicate with the tribes in their local language whereas the jawans are unable to do the same.
2. Naxalites use traditional ways of communication which is difficult to comprehend.
3. There is a fear of Naxals in the affected areas and people are scared to act as informers or provide help in anyway.
4. Naxalites have their agents in the villages and other local areas.
5. The areas are technologically deficient and lack electricity, water, telephone, proper roads and other resources which makes it difficult for the paramilitary to communicate.
6. Since transportation is a major problem, the forces are not provided with adequate equipment and resources.
What Matters the Most :-
In 2010 alone more than 79 CRPF soldiers have been killed on duty, the figure was 58 in 2009. The jawans realize that they have only two options available: to kill or to be killed and unfortunately they cannot even make a choice. Their sacrifice is hardly valued or honored by the citizens. Their condition is equally neglected by the state.
The State recruits soldiers to protect the nation but an equivalent duty vests on the state to protect its soldiers. The state can not act as a mere spectator to these mass killings. There lies no martyrdom is being a ready bate for the enemy. The CRPF jawans lack proper training, amenities, resources, intelligence system and assistance. The political and ideological fight between the Naxals and the government might probably end one day but till then many precious lives would be lost.
Taking pride in Kargil would serve no purpose if the Indian soldiers are treated as bates on their own soil.
Voluntary Retirement Scheme
The fear of death, lack of job satisfaction, low perks and remunerations and negligible promotions have forced many CRPF soldiers to opt for Voluntary Retirement Scheme (V.R.S). Most of them find the job of a private guard better than serving the paramilitary. The force is usually posted in sensitive areas like J&K, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and North East and at places where election is supposed to take place.
Tehelka reports, “According to official data, an unprecedented 14,422 jawans applied for premature voluntary retirement from service (VRS) in 2009 — up 85 percent from the previous year and 112 percent from 2007. Compare this with the fact that only 4,622 soldiers sought voluntary retirement from the Indian Army — which is three times larger than all the paramilitary forces put together — in the same period, and the contrast becomes painfully stark.”
Probable Reasons for Disillusionment
Although most of their time is spend in traveling, unlike army they are provided with no special train boogies. It is up to the mercy of the railways to provide them with travel passes. The basic amenities have become a luxury for them. They are given low quality food, torn tents, few medical facilities and hardly any leave.
The benefits of the 6th Pay Commission have barely reached its beneficiaries. It is alleged that their own departments ensure that the welfare schemes doesn’t reach them. The officers in the higher cadre enjoy all facilities whereas the soldiers not only face the wrath of their officers but also have to struggle hard to get their rights enforced. They are treated as servants by their commanders and have to follow orders at any cost. The pressure of following orders is immense and any fault may result in serious consequences. They have to provide a bundle of documents to avail the benefits of the 6th Pay Commission which is impossible for them as they hardly get any leave.
In a populated country like India, vacancies would be soon filled by new entries but is it justified to loose these soldiers? They sacrifice their blood and sweat to ensure that we can vote without fear, freely walk on streets and live safely at our homes. On the other hand they are not only deprived the company of their families but barely experience any job satisfaction.
Death is so probable that life seems meaningless to them.The issue has to be addressed or the country would loose considerable number of patriots.
It is unfortunate that the state is unable to protect those who protect its citizens.