CENTRAL RESERVE POLICE FORCE - THE SENTINEL OF PEACE*
D.G. Mohapatra

    The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is the premier armed force of the Union of India for internal security. Originally constituted as the Crown Representative Police in 1939, it is one of the oldest Central para pilitary forces. CRPF was raised as a sequel to the political unrest and the agitations in the then princely States of India following the Madras Resolution of the All-India Congress Committee in 1936 and the ever-growing desire of the Crown Representative to help the vast majority of the native States to preserve law and order as a part of the imperial policy.

    After Independence, the force was renamed as Central Reserve Police Force by an Act of Parliament on December 28, 1949. This Act constituted CRPF as an armed force of the Union. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the then Home Minister, visualised a multi-dimensional role for it in tune with the changing needs of a newly independent nation.

    The primary role of the CRPF is to aid and assist the States in Internal security management.
 

Attributes

    The force has an all-India character both in organisation and in deployment. Various attributes of the CRPF are its mobility, adaptability, wide spectrum of duties and graded response. The force keeps on moving from one corner of the country to the other to deal with internal security challenges. CRPF is highly professional and can work in perfect harmony with the State police.

    During the early 1950s, the performance of the CRPF detachments in Bhuj, the then Patiala and East Punjab Union (PEPSU) and Chambal ravines was appreciated by all quarters. The force played a significant role during the amalgamation of the princely States into the Indian Union. It helped the Union Government in disciplining the rebellious princely States of Junagarh and the small principality of Kathiawar in Gujarat which had declined to join the Indian Union.

    Soon after Independence, contingents of the CRPF were sent on Kutch, Rajasthan and Sindh borders to check infiltration and trans-border crimes. They were, subsequently, deployed on the Pakistan border in Jammu and Kashmir following attacks launched by the Pakistani infiltrators. The CRPF bore the brunt of the first Chinese attack on India at Hot Springs (Ladakh) on October 21, 1959. A small CRPF patrol was ambushed by the Chinese in which ten of its men made their supreme sacrifice for the country. Their martyrdom on October 21 is remembered throughout the country as the Police Commemoration Day every year.

    During the Chinese aggression of 1962, the Force once again assisted the Indian Army in Arunachal Pradesh. Eight CRPF personnel were killed in action. In 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars also the Force fought shoulder-to-shoulder with the Indian Army, both on the Western and Eastern borders.

    For the first time in the history of para-military Forces in India, thirteen companies of CRPF including a detachment of women were airlifted to join the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka to fight the militant caders. Besides, CRPF personnel were also sent to Haiti, Namibia, Somalia and Maldives to deal with law and order situation there, as a part of the UN Peace Keeping Force.

    In the late seventies, when the extremist elements disturbed peace in Tripura and Manipur, CRPF battalions were deployed in strength. Simultaneously, there was a turmoil in the Brahamaputra Valley. The CRPF had to be inducted in strength not only to maintain law and order but also to keep lines of communication free from disruption. The commitments of the Force continue to be very high in the North-East in dealing with the insurgency.

    When the spectre of terrorism manifested in Punjab in the early 80s, the State government asked for a large scale deployment of the CRPF. The Force had to bear the brunt of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir from 1990 to 1992 as well. The contribution of CRPF in dealing with the post-Charar-e-Sharif scenario in the State was appreciated by all quarters. CRPF has all along been supporting the State Police in fighting militancy.
 

Specialised Outfits

    The Rapid Action Force (RAF) is a specialised wing of CRPF. It was formed in October 1992 to deal with riots and related unrest with 10 of its battalions. This elite force has made its impact against the rioters and restored the confidence of the minorities. It has been very effective in dealing with communal violence. RAF has also succeeded in projecting the humane face of the Government and built bridges with the public by carrying out prompt rescue and relief operations during floods, earthquakes, cyclones and outbreak of epidemics in various parts of the country.

    CRPF is the only para military force in the country to have female battalions. The first such battalion was raised in 1986 with its headquarter at New Delhi. The second battalion came into existence in 1996 at Gandhinagar (Gujarat). They won laurels for their outstanding work in dealing with communal violence and insurgency, both within the country and in Sri Lanka.

    Besides performing difficult duties in the disturbed areas like Jammu & Kashmir and Manipur, they have also proved their mettle in sporting events at national and international levels.

    Another specialised outfit of the CRPF is the Green Force. The Force has been able to effectively check environmental degradation and sustain the regeneration of local flora and fauna. Nearly three lakh trees have been planted by the CRPF during commemoration of the 50th anniversary of India’s Independence. In Orissa, the Barbera Forest of about 24,000 hectares has been adopted by CRPF for preservation and protection of its flora and fauna since 1994.
 

Sporting Spirit

    CRPF has made significant contributions in promoting games and sports. Some outstanding sports persons of national and international levels like G.S.Randhawa, Hari Chand, Ishwar Singh, Khazan Singh, Bhanu Singh, Sukhwant Singh, Suresh Chand, R.S.Bal,. N. Kunjarani Devi, Jeevan Jyothi, N. Laxmi, Raja Ram Tokas, Tilak Thapa, Paramjit Singh and Rigzen Angmo- all wear the CRPF uniform. In the field of adventure sports also the Force has gone on several mountaineering expeditions.

    Since its inception, the CRPF has earned 1 George Cross (G), 1 Vir Chakra, 1 Padmashri, 3 King's Police Medals for Gallantry, 49 President’s Police Service Medals for Gallantry, 193 President’s Police Medals for Gallantry and Distinguished Service, 1518 Police medals for Gallantry and Meritorious Service, 4 Vishisht Seva Medals, 1 Yudh Seva Medal, 5 Sena Medals, 75 Prime Minister’s Life Saving Medals and one Jeevan Raksha Padak.

    With its dedicated service in maintaining the country’s unity and integrity, the Force has come to be recognised as an important embodiment for ensuring internal security. It has lived upto its motto of "Service and Loyalty". It has proved as the true sentinel of peace.-(PIB)

*CRPF is celebrating its 59th anniversary on December 28.