In a shocking revelation, the Indian home ministry has denied the knowledge on the strength of Central Armed Police Forces and Assam Rifles.
In a reply to an RTI request by activist Nutan Thakur, the ministry of defence said, “The information sought by you is not available with the undersigned as it pertains to CAPFs and AR. Therefore, your aforesaid RTI application is being transferred under section 6(3) of the RTI act, 2005 to the CPIOs concerned for prividing the requisite information/reply directly to you.”
Reacting to the RTI reply, Thakur told Janta Ka Reporter, “This is utterly surprising that the home ministry doesn’t have a clue on the total strength of these five security forces. If they can’t reveal the exact list of these forces, they should have at least told us the cumulative numbers. It’s unfortunate that the home ministry lacks knowledge on this very important aspect.”
The government’s reply assumes significance in light of growing attacks against the CRPF in Naxal-hit areas and problems faced by the BSF jawans leading to a debate on the depleting morale within the armed forces.
Five top security forces namely Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) fall under CAPF with all falling under the direct authority of the union home ministry.
While the BSF forces are deployed at the international border, the CRPF has played a crucial role in operations against Maoists in states affected by Naxal militancy.
Known for providing security to ‘vital industrial undertakings in the public sector’ the CISF troops have also been responsible for the security of the airports, national highways, government buildings in Delhi, security consultancy for the private sector, tactical deployment in the Kashmir Valley and disaster management.
As for Seema Suraksha Bal, this was formed in the aftermath of Kargil War after a Group of Ministers for relocation of all Para-military forces to achieve optimum efficiency by assigning one border for each force considered the K. Subramanayam Committee’s Report. SSB, as the government website says, was declared as a Border Guarding Force in 15th January, 2001 under the Ministry of Home Affairs and renamed as “Sashastra Seema Bal” on 15th December, 2003. On 19 June, 2001 SSB was given the mandate to guard the Indo-Nepal Border (1751 Kms.)