CRPF, the country's largest paramilitary force, has prohibited routine purchase of liquor for its jawans and officers after it found that consumption of hard drinks had an "adverse" impact on the health of the troops.
The 3 lakh-strong force has now centralised the process of procurement of spirits like whisky, rum, gin and vodka, taking the decision away from the field formations to the force headquarters in the national Capital.
An order issued recently in this regard said "henceforth no institutions (of CRPF) will purchase liquor as a routine measure" and any unit or formation which desires to procure these hard spirits will have to get a clearance from the office of none other than the director general (DG) on "each occasion on case-to-case basis".
The decision, sources said, was taken at a high-level meeting chaired sometime back by CRPF chief Prakash Mishra. The meeting deliberated on the rise in number of deaths and illnesses related to alcohol abuse, which is sold at subsidised rates in the force through a chain of canteens.
Over 40 non-operational deaths recorded in the field formations last year had some connection to the troopers' drinking behaviour, a senior official said.
Over 23 CRPF jawans have committed suicide this year owing to a variety of reasons and consumption of liquor looks like one, the official added.
The force is deployed for some of the toughest duties in the internal security domain, including being the lead combat agency for anti-Naxal operations.
"Hence, it was decided to immediately put a halt on these unit and range level purchases. There were also reports of some unregulated procurement of liquor which is obtained under the paramilitary subsidised quota," a senior official said.
The order has, however, not been favoured in certain quarters of the force as officials argue this will lead to greater abuse of alcohol by the personnel.
"Liquor has not been banned but its procurement has been put under strict regulation. It is common knowledge that in case some purchases are required to be made, getting a clearance from the top office takes time and hence this will lead to personnel finding ways to get such drinks from elsewhere including from other paramilitary or defence canteens," a senior commander deployed for anti-Naxal operations said.