The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) refers to uniform nomenclature of five security forces in India under the authority of Ministry of Home Affairs. They are
• Border Security Force (BSF),
• Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF),
• Central Industrial Security Force (CISF),
• Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), and
• Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)
India has five federal-level armed police organisations that constitute the CAPFs under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The CRPF and the BSF are the two biggest ones among them. Often, CAPFs are incorrectly referred to as the Central Para Military Forces.
India’s CAPFs are not meant to be paramilitary in nature. They operate under the MHA, rather than the Ministry of Defence. Their mandate is to assist the state police organisations under special circumstances like communal riots, insurgency and border skirmishes.
IPS members, and not army commanders, head these organisations. The officers at the junior and middle ranks (up to battalion commandant) are predominantly direct recruits who form the bulk of the unit-level leadership in the officer cadre. The senior-most ranks have officers seconded from the IPS on a temporary basis, with very few from the original ‘CAPF’ pool making it to the top.
The IPS officers who come on deputation stay in these organisations for a maximum of five years – two to three of which are spent in individual field postings.
During the year 2010 to 2013 more than 50000 personnel quit the CAPFs. The attrition rate is very high and is driven by several factors.
Recently a BSF personal posted a video on social media about the poor quality of food being served to them. Before this there was video of a CAPF personal comparing their salaries and service conditions with those of army.
What ails CAPFs?
• Despite a recorded policy document of the home ministry that an open-ended expansion of the Central Armed Police Forces must stop, expansion continues unabated, thanks to exaggerated demands from state governments due to shortage as well as poor training level of Police forces.
Unplanned expansion of the forces has made human resource management a stupendous problem. Today, the CRPF has strength of 240 battalions. A haphazard expansion of the central forces has also meant, there were deficiencies in infrastructure. For eg- There is an acute shortage of housing in the forces. There is a provision to provide 24% of the force accommodation at base headquarters, government as yet has been able to provide the facility to only 12%. Force’s camps lack basic facilities, have minimal security and deplorable living conditions.
• The deployment statement of the CAPFs is very distressing. About 95 per cent of the force remains deployed throughout the year without leave to visit the families (while Army personnel get a posting near their home after three years of border or war duties, it takes a paramilitary jawan nine years to get the same posting). This affects both training and the discipline and morale of the forces.
• There is no concept of peace posting. No break in duty. 80% of the personnel never get to live with their family during entire posting.
• Another factor, is the growing hiatus between the officers and the men. The Sahayak or buddy system is very demoralising for the jawans.
• The higher posts are reserved for officers from the Indian Police. They come on deputation for 2 to 3 years; they have no connection with the jawan on the ground. As a result, the problems faced by the jawans on the ground go unnoticed.
• The CAPFs have been demanding a special pay on the lines of the Military Special Pay (MSP) and the withdrawal of the contributory pension scheme. Both the demands have not been agreed to by the 7th pay Commission. (The per capita expenditure on pay and allowances for the forces was the lowest at Rs 2.97 lakh, while it was Rs 3.24 lakh for defence personnel and Rs 34.95 lakh for External Affairs employees). When transferred, they don’t get transfer allowance.
• Career promotion system not as smoothly organized as in army. These officers do not get same pay and perks like others in “Organized” Group-A central services. Their requests for Non- Functional upgrade has been rejected time and again.
• Shortages of transport and arms and ammunition makes them vulnerable in the line of duty and this is evident from the fact that more number of CAPF personnel have died in the line of duty than the personnel of Armed Forces. (Since Independence, 22,250 Army personnel have lost their lives in different battles, while 33,678 CAPF jawans have been killed in the line of duty.) (Photographs of most of the dead soldiers showed them wearing shoes they had purchased from the nearby market since the footwear issued by the force was found to be uncomfortable and unusable.)
• The grievance reddresal system is poor.
What the government has done to address these issues?
• Better dispute resolution, communication facility in field areas have been introduced. Increased interaction between jawans and officers has been initiated.
• A rational and fair leave policy has been formulated
• Well-regulated duty hours to provide optimum rest
• Improved living conditions in barracks and field formations
• Retention of housing in last posting to ensure education of children of the forces remain undisturbed
• Increased hardship and risk allowance
• Better medical facilities
What else needs to be done?
• The DoPT's notification to bring the CAPFs under organised services should be considered by Ministry of Home affairs
• They should be given Non functional upgrade as well as salary on par with armed forces as per 7th pay commission
• Instead of IPS officers, CAPF officers should get the top posts as they are more connected with the ground level issues the jawans are facing.
• The armed forces tribunal does not cover these forces therefore a separate tribunal should be created for addressing their disputes
• The grievance redressal mechanism needs to be made more healthy and accomodative.
• The state Police need to be reformed so that the dependency on the CAPFs falls. Andhra Police's Greyhound division is an example.