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Sukma ambush: CRPF ‘headless’, 4 other senior level vacancies yet to be filled

Besides not having a regular chief, the CRPF has six more vacancies at the special director general (SDG) level.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2017 12:46 IST
Rajesh Ahuja
Rajesh Ahuja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sukma ambush,Maoist attack Chhattisgarh,CRPF
25 CRPF jawans were killed in Chhattisgarh’s Sukhma district in a deadly Maoist attack.(PTI)

The CRPF, India’s largest paramilitary force, has been virtually headless for the last two months due to non-availability of enough eligible Indian Police Service (IPS) officers of the rank of director general (DG) who can be considered for its top post.

But that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Besides not having a regular chief, the CRPF – which lost 25 personnel in a suspected Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district on Monday – has four more vacancies at the special director general (SDG) level. The SDG is the second-highest rank after the DG at central police organisations such as the Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency and Bureau of Police Research and Development, besides paramilitary forces.

More significantly, around half-a-dozen additional DG-level vacancies are likely to crop up in the next six months.

“The Centre doesn’t have enough IPS officers in the rank of DG or SDG to fill up these vacancies. But the process of promoting 1984-batch IPS officers to the rank of DG to fill up these posts is on. It is expected to be completed in a month,” said a home ministry official on the condition of anonymity.

This is why Sudeep Lakhtakia, a 1984-batch IPS officer, has been heading the CRPF as acting chief ever since his predecessor, K Durga Prasad, retired on February 28. He will be eligible to hold the post of DG only if he is empanelled or – in other words – promoted to the rank.

Tough job in the red zone
Road opening parties of CRPF are crucial to getting roads built in the Maoist-affected areas of Bastar. Here is what a senior road opening parties (ROP) officer told HT, listing the challenges and difficulties CRPF personnel on road opening duties face
  • There is no surprise element. Many know when ROPs move
  • Only 25% of the force is on a road, the rest move alongside, away from sight. If there is a hill or ditch in the middle of a jungle, it becomes difficult to move. Maoists consider such places best to mount an ambush
  • Due to presence of iron ore it makes it difficult for mine detectors to work
  • In summers, Maoists plant pressure bombs beneath trees to target security personnel looking to catch their breath
  • Maoists see lunch time as an opportunity to strike because staff often gather around a tree to have food together and unwind
  • There is a problem of water in many camps in summer. Many personnel rarely take bath
  • There is no telephone signal at many places and troopers feel stressed when they are unable to speak to their families
  • It is a very difficult job for the security personnel because they are out in the sun in very difficult conditions. Unlike in most combing operations, they don’t get the cover of night
  • It is a monotonous job with no rewards. A personnel may save many lives by detecting bombs, but one slip means the entire fault is their. It is like a goalkeeper’s job
  • Mosquitoes are a perpetual problem.

Just two weeks ago, the Central IPS Association (CIPSA) took up the issue of senior-level vacancies at central police organisations with home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, and requested that 1984-batch IPS officers be granted an early promotion.

“The CIPSA also asked the home secretary to promote eligible officers from the 1985 batch to the rank of DGs, keeping in view the vacancies that will crop up in central police organisations over the next six months,” said an office-bearer .

However, inside sources dropped broad hints about a likely delay in the process – considering that even 1984-batch IAS officers haven’t been promoted to the rank of secretary at the Centre.

“The IAS lobby generally tries to keep a gap of six months to a year between the empanelment of IAS and IPS officers from the same batch. This is done to provide IAS officers with an edge over their IPS counterparts. And as the 1984 batch of IAS officers are yet to be promoted to the post of secretary, the wait for IPS officers from the same batch is only going to be longer,” said a senior IPS officer who is yet to be promoted to the DG post at the Centre despite working in that very capacity in his state.

The 1984-batch IAS officers are likely to be empanelled in the next few days. According to the IPS lobby, comparative promotions at their end should also be carried out immediately.

“If functional requirements warrant the early promotion of a batch, there should not be any restriction on the promotion or empanelment of a particular batch of IPS officers,” the officer said.

First Published: Apr 26, 2017 07:52 IST