THE INVISIBLE SHIELD
By Upagupt Mohanty
You may have come across several forwards on social networking platforms and Whatsapp that salute our Armed Forces for safeguarding our sovereignty from external threats. The internal stability and security of our country is equally vital, if not more. However, our paramilitary forces seldom get their due recognition. Whether it is the Maoist infested jungles, devious terrains of the North-East, the treacherous stretches of J&K that are prone to extremist incursions, or any other part of our country, the valiant soldiers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) of India, one of the largest paramilitary forces in the world, have been living this harsh reality since its inception. Apart from essaying their combatready role against extremism and insurgency, the CRPF also plays a leading role in crowd control, curbing riots, providing security cover for elections, VVIPs, vital installations, carrying out relief operations and also joining peace keeping missions of the United Nations across the globe.
The premier paramilitary force of the Union of India, the CRPF was originally constituted as the Crown Representative Police (CRP), under British rule on 27th July, 1939 at Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh. In 1949, the CRP was re-christened as The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) under the Indian Union by the first Home Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP & SSB constitute the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF), which is the overarching body. On 15th December 1973, the CRPF Group Centre (GC) was established in Odisha with Bhubaneswar as its Headquarter. The CRPF Odisha Sector was raised on July 1st, 2010. A second GC has been made operational at Sambalpur since two years.
“The desire to serve the nation as well as the power and responsibility that comes with the uniform, appealed the most to me, when I joined the CRPF’’ shares P. L. Panda (Sub Inspector, Odisha sector, CRPF).
The CRPF also has a ‘Mahila Battalion’ which is akin to the male battalions in terms of dexterity and efficiency and it also participates in ‘Anti-Naxal’ operations. “I was a member of the selection team for the UN Peace Keeping Force for Liberia (CRPF women contingent). I don’t have the exact numbers but there were women from Odisha too, who were selected in the contingent’’, said DIGP Ram Charitra. Maoist affected areas are the primary focus of this elite force today and the CRPF has been part of many a bloody battles recently. The 19th and 189th battalions from the Odisha Sector have fiercely fought against the Naxal operatives. On 11th March 2017, the 219th Battalion of the CRPF, lost 12 of its brave men to the Naxals in Chattisgarh under Bhejji Police Station. In another tragic incident on 24th April 2017, 25 CRPF men of the 74th Battalion laid down their lives for the nation, while fighting the Maoists in Kala Pathar (Sukma), again in Chhattisgarh. Within a month the CRPF, hit back through its Anti-Maoist operations as they achieved huge success by nabbing 105 left-wing rebels while 25 rebels surrendered. The combing operations carried out by CRPF, with the assistance of the state police, in the Maoist affected areas has resulted in a sharp decline of human casualties and recovery of a huge cache of illegal weapons and ammunitions
Arvind Singh (name changed on request), a CRPF ‘Jawan’now stationed at the Odisha sector HQ recollects “It was during 2005-2006 and I was with 143rd Battalion and posted in Avantipura (J&K), where I was on railway track protection duty. It was around 6.30 am, I was brushing my teeth while a few camp members went in our camp jeep to the local market, to get some ration. I heard a loud blast, around 200 metres from the base camp. On rushing to the spot we found that our camp jeep had flipped and our ‘Jawans’ had sustained injuries due to the blast caused by an implanted IED. No matter what comes ahead, fearlessly, we are always ready to serve our motherland”.
The CRPF Jawans face inordinately tough physical and mental situations even as they are continually separated from their families, yet, they maintain law and order with utmost regard to human dignity and freedom of the citizens. At times, our CRPF jawans have even faced stone pelting and abusive language instead of gratitude and honour, from the very same civilians whom they had rescued from crisis. “Where there is peace, there is CRPF, where there is unrest, there is CRPF. CRPF exchange bullets with bullets and peace with peace. It is peace that brings development in the country”; says DIGP Ram Charitra (Operations, Intelligence and Training), CRPF Odisha Sector and a recipient of Police Medal for Gallantry, awarded by President of India. Welfare of the CRPF personnel in the form of fulfillment of educational requirement of their wards, immediate financial assistance for family of the deceased personnel etc. has seen a big leap. Recently, movie-star Akshay Kumar and sports-star Saina Nehwal have come forward to provide financial support to the families of each of the 12 CRPF Jawans who were martyred in Sukma. CRPF’s programmes for the betterment of society are equally commendable. Recently, the Odisha sector of the CRPF had organized a football tournament at the KIIT stadium in Odisha for the Under- 19 boys and girls from 4th to 14th May, 2017. Named as ‘Oorja-CAPFs Youth Under-19 football talent hunt tournament -2017’, the tournament captured the hearts of the people from Odisha. The tournament strived to popularize the football fever in the run up to the Under-17 FIFA World Cup (to be held in October).
As the CRPF family celebrates its foundation day on 27th July, ‘Coffee Bytes’ salutes the spirit of these unsung heroes for their immense contribution to nation building and living up to their motto of ‘Service & Loyalty’ with valour.
“ Kendriya reserve police bal, ek aisa dal, jo karta hai, sab muskil hal Iska naara seva bhakti, jo hai , iski prabal shakti Chahe ho, Purvantar ke nirav vaan ya mahanagaron ka kolahal, Kaisi bhi ho vikaat samasya, Ye bal karta usko hal Iss bal ki har ek ekai, apne mein sampoorna desh Bhin-Bhin bhasa – besh bhusha, Akar hotein ismein ek”
Poem written on CRPF by IGP Kamal Kant Sharma, Chief of CRPF Odisha Sector and a recipient of the Police Medal for Gallantry, awarded by the President of India.