Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs): Overview and Issues

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    Syllabus: GS 3/Internal Security

    In Context

    • Recently, issues related to the functioning of  Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) have been highlighted.

    Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs)

    • CAPFs comprise seven forces including the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) which assists in internal security and law and order,
    • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which protects vital installations (such as airports) and public sector undertakings,
    • The National Security Guard (NSG) which is a special counter-terrorism force, and 
    • Four border guarding forces, namely,
      • the Border Security Force (BSF)-first line of defence against Pakistan.
      • The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP),-ITBP is in the same position vis-à-vis China except in areas where the Army has moved forward in the face of attempted transgressions by our northern neighbour. 
      • the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB): deployed along the sensitive borders with Nepal and Bhutan
      •  the Assam Rifles (AR) :Though the AR functions under the administrative control of the Home Affairs Ministry, its operational control lies with the Ministry of Defence..

    Emerging Issues 

    • Issue of selecting leaders for the top level:  There is a lot of resentment in the forces when officers with no experience in the CAPF are just para-dropped as head of that force.
      • This has happened in the past and, unfortunately, is continuing even today. 
    • Delay in posting: Another matter which has been causing heartburn among the senior officers is the delay in posting a successor to the top post after the retirement of an incumbent.
      • The post of DG BSF remained vacant after the retirement of VK Johri in 2020 and there was no regular incumbent for five months until Rakesh Asthana was posted. The SSB had no regular DG for five months after the transfer of SL Thaosen in 2022 until Rashmi Shukla was posted.
    • Operational Challenges: CAPFs often deal with internal security threats, such as insurgency, terrorism, and left-wing extremism. Handling these situations requires specialized training and resources. Deployment of CAPFs around the year results in training being neglected.
      • Sometimes, state police are either incapable of handling their law and order problems or the state government prefers to abdicate its responsibility and insists on reinforcements from the Centre.
      • For forces like the Border Security Force (BSF), managing borders can be challenging due to difficult terrains, porous borders, and constant threat of infiltration.
    • Lack of coordination with State Police: Collaboration and coordination between CAPFs and state police are crucial. Issues may arise due to differences in jurisdiction, communication gaps, or conflicting strategies.
    • Logistical Issues: Inadequate infrastructure, including accommodation, training facilities, and equipment hindering their operational capabilities. 
    • Welfare and Morale: Ensuring proper living conditions for CAPF personnel is crucial for maintaining high morale and motivation. The suicide rate in the central armed police forces (CAPFs) is inordinately high when compared to that of men in a similar demographic.
    Do you know ?
    – Over 50,000 Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel quit jobs in the past five years, according to data provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to a parliamentary panel. 
    a. The highest attrition was in 2022, when 11,884 personnel quit services.

    Steps of Government 

    • The Government of India has been increasing their manpower (women power also now), giving them better equipment and resources and augmenting their annual budgets,
      • The CAPFs have been allocated Rs 94,665 crore in 2023-24.  
    • The Government has approved a separate Scheme namely, Modernization Plan-IV for CAPFs, in continuation of Modernization Plan-III for CAPFs, with a total financial outlay of Rs. 1523 crore, till 31.03.2026.
    • With a view to enhancing representation of women in CAPFs, it was decided in January, 2016 to reserve 33% posts at Constable level for being filled up by women in CRPF and CISF and 14-15% posts to begin with at Constable level in border guarding forces i.e. BSF, SSB and ITBP. 

    Suggestions

    • CAPFs  are mega forces and require absolutely first class leaders who would lead from the front, inspire and motivate the personnel and look after their welfare.
      • CAPFs  should not be headless even for one day.
        •  The dates of retirement of all the officers are known. It only requires planning and timely decisions at the highest level.
    • The government should frame guidelines for posting officers to the rank of Director General of these CAPFs. 
    • CAPFs should not become a dumping ground for officers who could not reach the top in the organisation they worked in.
    • Urgent measures may be taken to improve the working conditions significantly to motivate the personnel to stay in the force
    • The CAPFs may follow a rotation policy of deployment so that the jawans do not stay in tough and inhospitable conditions for longer durations at a stretch. 
    • Government  can conduct exit interviews or surveys among the personnel opting for voluntary retirement and resignation to assess the factors leading to attrition and undertake appropriate measures .
    • Government can appoint a Commission to go into the myriad problems of the CAPFs and suggest short-term and long-term measures to maintain their performance at a high level.
    Mains Practice Question 
    [Q] The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) are dealing with internal security problems and securing the international borders .In context of the above statement Examine the various challenges linked to the functioning of (CAPFs). Also, discuss the steps to counter them .