Martyrdom increases in CRPF: Still, the force do not have a full-time leader
New Delhi, April 25: The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), that leads anti-Maoist operations across the country, has not had a full-time Director General for the last two months, even as the country’s largest paramilitary force lost 38 personnel in the line of duty in two major ambushes during the period.
The paramilitary wing lost more than two dozen of its men on Monday to an ambush by the communist guerrillas in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district- the second attack on the CRPF in the area within 40 days.
Prior to K Durga Prasad’s retirement as the last full-time chief of the Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF) on 28 February this year, the Home Ministry had appointed Additional DG Sudeep Lakhtakia to hold the charge in “additional” capacity.
Notably, 12 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in a Naxal ambush in Sukma in Chhattisgarh on 11 March, while the force on Monday suffered one its major casualties in the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) theater after 25 jawans died in a repeat of the brazen Maoist assault.
While officials in the Home Ministry say the appointment of a full-time Director General is expected soon, those in the Central Reserve Police Force (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 Director General for the nearly 3-lakh-strong force till now.
While the day-to-day operations and work of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) are being conducted, the absence of regular chief hits when big and important policy decisions are to be taken, the official said.
“The government will soon appoint a full-time Director General for the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soon,” the officer added.
“Why is a force of 300,000 personnel headless for two months?” asked Prakash Singh, former director general of Border Security Force (BSF). “Where is the leadership for the force? When this government took over, (home minister) Rajnath Singh made a grand announcement about a policy to deal with the situation.
Three years later, where is that policy?” The patrol team of 99 personnel was on a road-sanitisation operation. “The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) party had left their camp around 5.30am. While patrolling the road they took a break around 10.30am. That’s the time they noticed some villagers approach them. The villagers had cattle with them and soon moved away. It now appears they were a Maoist patrolling party to assess the number of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and their weapons,” top sources in the ministry of home affairs said.
A senior Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) official said while the acting CRPF Director General 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 Director-General,” the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officer said.
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 hospitalized.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh had convened a meeting of all paramilitary chiefs, asking them to keep a check on such instances.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the lead anti-Naxal operations force of the country, is 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.