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Friday, April 9, 2010

Shocking details on the Plight of CRPF Soldiers

Indian Army chief VK Singh blamed the recent massacre of the CRPF officials on 'internal deficiencies', stating that the soldiers were not trained properly.

"This is a matter of concern... in what has happened, there were some internal deficiencies, which may be in their training or some other things and they (paramilitary forces) are thinking over it," he said. 
"The 62nd Battalion of the CRPF that was attacked was not trained by the Army. Our role is till now limited to training the personnel and giving advice to the government. Beyond that, our involvement is bound to have some implications…but that will be decided by the Home Ministry. The political leadership of the country has to decide whether the army is to be deployed for anti-Maoist operations. They will take a decision after considering so many aspects. It is difficult for me to say whether the army would be deployed or not."

The Indian Army has trained around 40,000 troops to tackle the Naxal menace. However, according to Singh, unlike in the Army, complete units of personnel do not come in for training and as a result not all troopers are trained fully. "At times, we don't get homogeneous entities for training. It means that if it is a Company (for training), it does not come to us as a Company (together), which happens in the Army," he said.

The other shocker is that the soldiers that are deployed to counter the Maoists are on an empty stomach, without adequate drinking water and medical facilities. The CRPF men can defend themselves against Maoist attacks but not against malaria and poisonous reptiles. "We are also fighting in the anti-insurgency mode. Army soldiers get dry fruits and other eatables in sufficient quantity during operations. We have to fight on empty stomach and dry throats. Our jawans need food that matches the task at hand," said a CRPF jawan. 
"Malaria is one of the biggest challenges of living here. People frequently fall sick. Some of us have to proceed on sick leave. What has made matters worse is the non-availability of medical facilities."
"Forget qualified doctors, there are not even decent medicine shops. The local doctors would prescribe the same regular medicines for disease. The nearest hospitals are some distance away. This is not only our plight but of everyone posted or deployed in remote jungle camps. At night, you are not sure of what may bite or sting you. Forget patrolling, one is not safe even in camps. If a snake or something as poisonous bites a victim, there may not be a chance to save him. Water is a big problem here. We have no clue how to manage in this place where we have to work under constant threat and high daytime temperatures." he added.

"There is no surety we would get drinking water. Sometimes we have to drink water from the same pond that animals use to quench their thirst. The unhygienic living conditions are leading to diseases and many personnel are falling sick," a constable said, "There is no pat on the back for a good job done but always some kind of harassment in the name of discipline."

On Tuesday as many as 76 CRPF security personnel were massacred as the Leftwing guerrillas attacked in the dense forests of Chhattisgarh in the dense forests of Chhattisgarh, about 450 km away from Raipur. Only seven men survived the brutal and well-planned attack and one helicopter which was sent to rescue the men came under fire. The attack was the worst ever since March 2007 when the rebels slaughtered 55 policemen. More than 5,000 policemen, militants and poor villagers have died on account of Maoist attacks in India over the past few years. A crackdown is under way and 70,000 paramilitary troopers and policemen have been deployed.

Chhattisgarh's former security advisor K.P.S. Gill ridiculed the anti-Maoist operation in Chhattisgarh and dubbed it as 'flawed'. All the CRPF personnel reportedly violated the basic principles of anti-insurgency drive by moving in large numbers, providing an easy target for the attackers. The Bharatiya Janata Party, which rules Chhattisgarh, called for an "all-out offensive" against the Maoists.

Dr. Vishwanath Bite

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