Govt mulls leaner CAPFs; merger, rotation of troops on cards

PTI, Jan 6, 2020, 10:21 AM IST

New Delhi: The government is working on an ambitious proposal to transform various paramilitary forces into leaner and compact fighting units by undertaking probable steps like merging and rotating older troops amongst them, informed officials said.

They said a special committee of senior Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) officers and Union Home Ministry brass has been constituted to deliberate on the issue and present a final report to the ministry by the middle of this year.

One of the proposals that is being discussed by the committee of the Directors General (DsG) and Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the Ministry of Home Affairs is to merge some forces to make them leaner, fighting fit and task-oriented for a specific border guarding role or a specialised counter-terrorist task.

It is being discussed if the two border guarding forces, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), could be merged to create a uniform unit to guard the entire eastern land border along with countries like China and Nepal, a senior official told PTI.

At present, their task is separate. While the ITBP guards the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, the SSB mans the 1,751 km front with Nepal and another 699-km border with Bhutan.

A few discussions have taken place on the subject but merits have to be analysed before going ahead with the merger of these two forces as against the post Kargil war policy decision to have ‘one force for one border’, another official said.

Both the forces are just under one lakh personnel in strength and have their unique culture and regimentation. More discussions are in the offing and nothing has been finalised, officials said.

Another proposal in the discussion stage is the merging of the country’s largest paramilitary force CRPF with the counter-terror commandos force, NSG.

The two forces are very different from each other but the discussion is to possibly have a single command for the two forces, officials said.

While the CRPF is the lead force for the maintenance of law and order, anti-Naxal operations and counter-insurgency, the NSG is the premier federal strike force for counter-terror and counter-hijack operations.

The sheer core competencies of these two forces can be blended to achieve the target of having a single force to combat terror and hijack incidents and Maoist and insurgency threats, they said.

However, the proposal is only at the discussion stage at present and many other issues are to be analysed before it is accepted or rejected, the officials added.

Another proposal in the works is to have a physically fit profile for the over 3 lakh personnel strong CRPF in order to use it as the first instrument of a strike in all theatres of the internal security domain.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who recently visited the CRPF headquarters here to review its operational preparedness, had asked the force to see if policy steps can be taken to keep its profile young and fit.

CRPF then constituted a six-member committee of officers to prepare a blueprint if a threshold cut-off age can be fixed after which its personnel can be shifted to “relatively static duties” within the organisation or such personnel can be given less hard duties.

The committee headed will also analyse if such personnel can be “absorbed” in other CAPFs like the SSB or the airports security force CISF to ensure better “rest and recuperation” for them.

All the CAPFs comprising the CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF and SSB apart from the National Security Guard (NSG) have been asked by the MHA to look for and induct modern technology and gadgetry to perform their duties either along the borders or in the hinterland, officials said.

The home minister during his maiden visits to the head offices of a number of these forces has stressed on primarily two subjects: the welfare of troops to keep them motivated for their task and using modern technology to ease their hard task without fail, they added.

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