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Headless 3-lakh-strong force battling Naxals: CRPF leading anti-Maoist operations without regular chief for 2 months

With 240 Battalions And Various Other Establishments, The CRPF Is Considered India's Largest Paramilitary Force And Has A Sanctioned Strength Of 308,862 Personnel.

Agencies | Updated on: 25 Apr 2017, 02:52:47 PM
Injured jawans of CRPF in Sukma attack on Monday. PTI Photo

New Delhi:

The Left-wing extremists killed at least 25 CRPF personnel and injured seven in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district on Monday, the deadliest ambush by the Naxalites of security forces this year.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh during his visit to Raipur on Tuesday said the government will review its anti-Naxalite strategy.

Rajnath Singh, who arrived in Raipur at around 10.30am on Tuesday and headed to the headquarters of the 4th battalion of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force in the Mana camp area where a wreath-laying ceremony was held, later convened a meeting with Chief Minister Raman Singh and senior officers.

"Naxalites are using tribals as fodder," he told reporters after the meeting.

"They are being used as human shields," he added.

Also Read | Timeline of Maoist bloodbath in India

The Central Reserve Police Force is India's largest Central Armed Police Forces and functions under the aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) of the Government of India. 

With 240 battalions and various other establishments, the CRPF is considered India's largest paramilitary force and has a sanctioned strength of 308,862 personnel.

The Force has grown into a big organisation with 240 battalions, (including 207 executive battalions, 6 Mahila battalions, 10 RAF battalions, 10 CoBRA battalions, 5 Signal battalions and 1 Special Duty Group, 1 Parliament Duty Group), 43 Group Centres, 20 Training Institutions.

CRPF remains 'headless'

The CRPF, whose primary role lies in assisting the State and Union Territories in police operations to maintain law and order and counter insurgency, remains headless for almost two months now with the government yet to appoint its regular Director General (DG).

Post K Durga Prasad's retirement as the last full-time chief of the Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF) on February 28, the Union Home Ministry had appointed Additional DG Sudeep Lakhtakia to hold the charge in "additional" capacity.

Notably, 12 CRPF personnel were killed in a Naxal ambush in Sukma in Chhattisgarh on March 11, while the force on April 24 suffered one of its major casualties in the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) attack after 25 jawans died in a repeat of the brazen Maoist assault.

Also Read | 25 CRPF jawans killed in deadly Naxal attack in Sukma: Here's how it happened

While officials in the Home Ministry say the appointment of a full-time DG is expected soon, those in the CRPF maintain there was "no word" with them in this regard.

A senior Home Ministry official said a panel of eligible IPS officers has already been prepared but there has been no finality on the name of the next DG for the nearly 3-lakh-strong force till now.

While the day-to-day operations and work of CRPF is being conducted, the absence of a regular chief hits when big and important policy decisions are to be taken, the official said.

"The government will soon appoint a full time DG for the CRPF soon," the officer added.

A senior CRPF official said while the acting CRPF DG and senior Security Advisor in the Home Ministry K Vijay Kumar rushed to the spot and met the troops the very next day, the "absence of a regular chief at such crucial moments is felt".

"There has been no word on the appointment of the new DG," the CRPF officer said.

Also Read | Naxalite attack in Sukma is a cold blooded murder, says Rajnath Singh

In the first week of April, 168 recruits of the force suffered food poisoning at their camp in Pallipuram in Kerala and had to be hospitalised.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh had taken strong exception of the incident and also convened a meeting of all paramilitary chiefs asking them to keep a check on such instances.

"It is always good to have a full-time chief who is empowered to take confident policy decisions. It is surprising to see that the 3-lakh personnel force, which is also the largest paramilitary across the globe, is kept headless and without a regular DG for well about two months," another officer said.

The CRPF is not only the lead anti-Naxal operations force of the country but also heavily deployed for rendering law and order duties in various states in assistance to local police and for conducting anti-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East.

The CRPF is headed by a Director general who is an Indian Police Service officer and is divided into ten administrative sectors, each headed by an Inspector General. 

Each Sector consists of one or more administrative and/or Operational Ranges, headed by an officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police. 

Now, Group Centres are also headed by DIGs. 

The Financial Advisor of the CRPF has been an Indian Revenue Service officer of the rank of Joint Secretary and also has Dy Advisors from the Indian Audit and Accounts Service or the Indian Telecom. Service and Indian Civil Account Service.

There are 240 CRPF battalions of approximately 1200 personnel each. Each battalion is commanded by an officer designated as Commandant, and consists of seven CRPF companies, each containing 135 men. Each company is headed by an Assistant Commandant.

With inputs frpm PTI 

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First Published : 25 Apr 2017, 02:14:00 PM