Tag Archives: MPV

CRPF SUKMA BLAST: Did not check the road for mines admits Chhattisgarh Police

Does the left hand know what the right is doing? Not always.

In a stunning revelation, it is now emerging that neither the local police nor the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) – both tasked with countering the left-wing Maoist violence in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh – bothered checking the road for mines before allowing troops to ply on it leading to the carnage on March 13 where nine policemen were killed in an mine explosion.

Around noon on Tuesday, in the state’s Sukma district, men from 212 battalion of the CRPF were commuting from the Kistaram camp to the one at Palodi when their Mine Protected Vehicle (MPV) was blasted by insurgents using an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

Two more policemen who were in the same vehicle are currently being treated for the injuries they sustained.

While the CRPF maintained that the state police was tasked with clearing the road from all forms of threat on that ill-fated day, the state police said did not have the resources required for that task.

Sundarraj Patilingam, the Chhattisgarh Police Deputy Inspector General (DIG) who looks at the violence-hit region said, “On that day, the state police undertook an area domination exercise (this involves occupying the dominating features along a route to secure a large area) between Kistaram and Palodi. It was a decision taken based on resources available before the officials on ground. In hindsight, we believe a more intensive de-mining and ROP (Road Opening Party is specifically tasked with minutely scanning the road to terminate threats like the IEDs) could have resulted in detection of the IED. Therefore the incident could have been averted”.

He added, “But ideal conditions don’t always exist and senior officials have to visit camps”.

For years now, Maoist rebels have used IEDs planted underneath the road surface to target security personnel. A thorough ROP is thus the only way to counter the threat.

Vehicular movements are generally avoided unless personnel actually conduct an ROP exercise and give the green light.

Warning was ignored 

Barely five hours before the mine blast, the Maoists fired upon personnel from the CRPF’s special unit, CoBRA (208th battalion) ahead of the Kistaram camp at about 7am.

“We’d hardly covered three kilometres on our way to Palodi, nearly 250 Maoist insurgents attacked us. We hit them back and they retreated,” said a policeman who was aware of the fight.

As a result of this, a pre-planned visit to the Kistaram and other camps by the Sukma Superintendent of Police and senior CRPF officer was cancelled.

Nevertheless, at around 9am, the SP, Abhishek Meena, landed in a helicopter at Kistaram, unaccompanied by the senior CRPF officer.

“Our 208 CoBRA had warned about the presence of large number of Maoists with sophisticated arms in the area. The Sukma Superintendent of Police (SP) went ahead with his pre-planned visit after assessing the situation. Our Commanding Officer sent the MPVs one of which got caught in the IED blast”, said the Director General of CRPF, RR Bhatnagar.

Asked if the SP Sukma should have paid heed to the caution advised by his force, Bhatnagar said, “There is no point in conducting these post mortems. We have to look ahead”.

When contacted, the Sukma SP Meena declined to comment.




CRPF IN TURMOIL: Juniors in rage against top brass complain to Home Ministry. Veteran says time to introspect

Article appeared in the Sunday Mail Today of April 20, 2014
Article appeared in the Sunday Mail Today of April 20, 2014

There is anger brewing. And the recent loss of 25 men in a little over a month has little to do with it.  Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), India’s internal security backbone, a ready response to challenges posed by insurgencies, law and order situations or election duties, is in a bad shape.

In a rare and dramatic move aimed at opposing a controversial new policy, seen by many as a personal initiative of the Director General (DG) himself, a section of CRPF cadre officers have knocked the doors of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). So severe were the contents of the complaint that a surprised and taken aback MHA immediately stepped in, stalled the policy implementation and set up a committee to examine the same. Sources in the MHA indicated that the CRPF top brass had kept them in the dark over ‘such a far reaching proposal’. A copy of this 11-page letter addressed to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and titled ‘Damaging the basic structure of the CRPF’ was accessed by this correspondent.



—————————————————————————————————————————————–Aimed at providing higher level of satisfaction to its Non Gazetted Force Personnel (NGOs) which comprise Inspectors and below, including constables as well as improve command and control, this policy was formulated last year. After discussions, on January 31, 2014, the process was initiated wherein NGOs were given an option to indicate and opt to work in the region of his/her preference. “It was opined that this will go a long way in reducing the stress being felt by the constabulary due to long absence from their family, adverse environment and hazardous duties,” said the policy document.

Four ‘Zones’ were created and the area divided and based on feedback received from the NGOs, mass transfers were to take place after the conclusion of General Elections 2014. It was claimed that the financial implication emerging out of this policy had been already analysed and that the policy was ‘financially neutral.’

Contradicting this policy, the unsigned letter which ends with a scribbled word above ‘A CRPF officer’, goes on to lambast the top brass for its ‘whimsical’ attitude in interfering with the organisational structure of the force. The document is divided into categories like ‘North East aspect’, ‘Administrative Matters’, ‘Tac Hqs’, ‘Attachments’, ‘Budget Matters’, ‘Operational Aspect’, ‘Training’, ‘Command and Control’, ‘Functional Matters’, ‘Specialised Units’, ‘National Character’, ‘Jawans’ Point of View’, ‘Other Matters’ and ‘Conclusion’.

Clearly, the MHA saw some merit in the letter and decided to step in, bringing the effort of the DG CRPF to a naught.

Said a source, “IPS officers come on deputation and as a result have limited exposure to the force. Instead of taking down the force and order a complete revamp, they should use their positions and improve our work conditions. It isn’t that all the problems have been solved.”

“The majority of the force, which comprises the NGOs were happy about it. The only ones complaining were some disgruntled CRPF cadre officers who, as a result of this policy, had to move out of their comfort zones and toil like the men have been doing for all these years,” said Dilip Trivedi, DG CRPF. When asked about the conflict within the force when his officers chose to bypass him and approach the MHA, he said, “It should not have happened. But we will clarify our stand to this committee and hope for the best. I am confident.”

Article appeared in the Sunday Mail Today of April 20, 2014
Article appeared in the Sunday Mail Today of April 20, 2014

Armoured vehicles get the short shrift

The biggest killer, in the Maoist-insurgency is the Improvised Explosive Device (IED). As on date, the only mobile protection against the IED is the Mine Protected Vehicle (MPV).

As per the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the CRPF has been authorised a total of 534 MPVs of which the force has 106, at present. This gap notwithstanding, the top brass has been unable to get its act together for years, on the road ahead.

A source pointed out, “In a meeting chaired by the DG CRPF last month, it was decided to surrender whatever limited MPVs were in hand. It came as a shock because it showed how disconnected the top brass is from the field commanders, who actually have written letters seeking more such vehicles.”

When asked, Trivedi admitted to this and added, “There were incidents, a while ago, in which the MPVs did not live up to what was expected of them. That caused a decline in interest. However, recently our ground formations have informed us that they need these vehicles. So we are re-framing the Qualitative Requirements (QRs) now,” he said.

It was in October 2009 that the MHA had first asked the then DG of CRPF if the force wanted to re-frame the MPV QRs.

Lessons from Vietnam War

According to a senior Home Ministry official, the CRPF which is literally fighting a ‘war’ against the Maoist insurgents needs to take some lessons from the Americans who were fighting a similarly unknown enemy in Vietnam.

The CRPF did away with the Annual Change Over (ACO) policy where entire battalions would move from location to location and replaced it with piecemeal transfer policy of personnel. Quoting from the much-acclaimed book ‘Crisis in Command’, the official said, “This book says, ‘Had the replacement system used in Vietnam been different, rotating unit replacements instead of individual replacements, cohesion might have been greater…we suspect that the common experience of units training together, shipment overseas, common battle experiences with known and familiar officers and NCO’s all might have functioned collectively to prevent, or at least, minimise the emergence of those factors which we have associated with disintegration,’ and its so relevant to CRPF’s situation.”

Continuing confusion hits the CRPF

From 1939 till 2011, the CRPF was following the Annual Change Over (ACO) policy where 1/3rd of all the battalions would physically move and relocate annually. This would ensure that those in hard areas get better postings and vice versa. This is a system which is still followed by the Indian Army as well as the Border Security Force (BSF). This was, however, discontinued from January 12 2010 after a ‘detailed review’.

Transfer policy, replacing the ACO, was issued on October 24, 2011. Under this policy, there was to take place annual transfer of up to 25 percent of the rank and file from battalions which had completed four years.

On January 31, 2014, CRPF issued a ‘Standing Order No. 01/2014’ in which it was mentioned, ‘transfer policy could not be implemented uniformly’. It was further stated that the transfer policy caused ‘dissatisfaction and was not implementable’, paving the way for the re-organisation policy which has now been challenged.

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/exclusive-worlds-largest-paramilitary-crpf-splits-over-new-transfer-policy/1/356641.html

Home Ministry unhappy with CRPF’s anti-Maoist strategy, says internal report

(As appeared on indiatoday.intoday.in)

For the men fighting the Maoist insurgency, 2013 has been a bad year. After losing ten men in Jharkhand’s Latehar district in the first week of the year, an internal study of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) compiled by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has revealed that the forces are losing their grip on the Red brigade. A copy of this assessment accessed, examines the performance of the forces over the last two years in the nine ‘affected’ states, manages to hit newer ground.

Performance dips

While in 2011, 72 Maoists were killed, in 2012, forces could achieve only 50 ‘kills’. Worryingly, the number of men from the CRPF, the lead agency in the anti-Maoist operations, killed rose from 26 in 2011 to 37 last year. Not surprisingly CRPF’s kill ratio, has dropped to 1.35 in 2012 as against 2.77 in 2011. The states where the CRPF lost most men last year were Maharashtra (13), Bihar (11), Chattisgarh (7), Jharkhand (4), Andhra Pradesh (2) and West Bengal (2). Casualties have drastically reduced in Chattisgarh and Jharkhand.

‘Conversion’ ratio, measured as number of kills achieved per encounter, too sees the CRPF suffering a reversal with only 50 rebels killed in 148 encounters, achieving a ratio of 0.34 against 72 deaths in 161 encounters, a ratio of 0.43.

IEDs most lethal

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), the most preferred weapon of the Maoists, have proved themselves yet again. “More than 62% of our deaths are on account of the IEDs, which either hit our MPVs or are anti-personnel mines,” said a senior MHA official.

In 2012, the rebels had blasted a CRPF van in Maharashtra and a Mine Protection Vehicle (MPV) in Bihar. Sources added that despite so many casualties, only now the CRPF has managed to float a new tender for better MPVs. “Maoists know our MPVs so well that they are able to blast them with ease. Yet we have been very slow,” he said.

Cross-border operations picking up

Maoist insurgents often known to seek sanctuaries by exploiting inter-state boundaries, are now facing intensive efforts. “Maximum cooperation exists today between Jharkhand and surrounding states. Results between Uttar-Pradesh-Bihar, Andhra Pradesh-Chattisgarh, & Maharashtra-Chattisgarh too are picking up,” said an officer.

The number of apprehensions too have dropped from around 1683 in 2011 to 1358 in 2012, with Bihar (346) leading the way followed by Jharkhand (263), Andhra Pradesh (239), Odisha (131),  Chattisgarh (127) and Maharashtra (102). “The problem is in convicting those apprehended.

In the Dantewada massacre of 2010, where we lost 76 personnel, ten were arrested but were acquitted due to lack of evidence,” recounted a senior CRPF officer.

Home Ministry pitches for more resources

Informed sources said that the MHA has cleared several purchases for the CRPF including Light Machine Guns (LMGs), Night Vision Devices (NVDs), Under Barrel Grenade Launchers (UBGL) and assault rifles. “Also, we are improving our coordination, cross border operations and tactics. We are in a much better shape than in the past,” said a senior officer.

Admitting to the findings, a source said, “We are hitting the Naxals where they were known to be invincible like Abujmadh in Chattisgarh and Saranda in Jharkhand. These statistics should not dampen our spirits.  It was also learnt that the MHA has tasked the CRPF with preparation of encounter reports on monthly and quarterly basis to have a better grip on things.

  • Of all paramilitary forces, CRPF has maximum deployment in Naxal-affected areas with over 75 battalions (50,000 men) spread across nine states
  • Survey studied data from nine states over last two years
  • 2010 was by far the worst year, with the CRPF losing over 150 men
  • Lack of human and technical intelligence remains the biggest handicap