The CRPF remains headless for almost two months now with the government yet to appoint its regular Director General (DG), even as the country’s largest paramilitary force lost 38 personnel in line of duty in two major ambushes during the period.
Post K Durga Prasad’s retirement as the last full-time chief of the Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF) on February 28, the Union Home Ministry had appointed Additional DG Sudeep Lakhtakia to hold the charge in “additional” capacity.
Notably, 12 CRPF personnel were killed in a Maoist ambush in Sukma in Chhattisgarh on March 11, while the force on Monday suffered one its major casualties in the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) theatre after 25 jawans died in a repeat of the brazen Maoist assault.
25 brave soldiers of 74 Bn, CRPF martyred & 06 critically injured in an encounter with Maoists today at Burkapal in Sukma, Chhattisgarh— CRPF (@crpfindia) April 24, 2017
While officials in the Home Ministry say the appointment of a full-time DG is expected soon, those in the CRPF maintain there was “no word” with them in this regard.
A senior Home Ministry official said a panel of eligible IPS officers has already been prepared but there has been no finality on the name of the next DG for the nearly 3-lakh- strong force till now.
While the day-to-day operations and work of CRPF is being conducted, the absence of a regular chief hits when big and important policy decisions are to be taken, the official said.
“The government will soon appoint a full time DG for the CRPF soon,” the officer added.
A senior CRPF official said while the acting CRPF DG and senior Security Advisor in the Home Ministry K Vijay Kumar rushed to the spot and met the troops the very next day, the “absence of a regular chief at such crucial moments is felt”.
“There has been no word on the appointment of the new DG,” the CRPF officer said.
In the first week of April, 168 recruits of the force suffered food poisoning at their camp in Pallipuram in Kerala and had to be hospitalised.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh had taken strong exception of the incident and also convened a meeting of all paramilitary chiefs asking them to keep a check on such instances.
“It is always good to have a full-time chief who is empowered to take confident policy decisions. It is surprising to see that the 3-lakh personnel force, which is also the largest paramilitary across the globe, is kept headless and without a regular DG for well about two months,” another officer said.
The CRPF is not only the lead anti-Maoist operations force of the country but also heavily deployed for rendering law and order duties in various states in assistance to local police and for conducting anti-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East.