The finance ministry has shot down the force’s proposal for an intelligence wing, three years after the home ministry cleared the plan. The argument being advanced now is that the expenditure on creating new facilities, including a training school, will be prohibitive.
The refusal comes soon after the home ministry’s decision to raise 39 more battalions, adding to the existing 201. Most of these are engaged in fighting insurgency.
The need for an intelligence wing was strongly felt in Nandigram, where the central force had to entirely depend on local police for information in quelling the violence. “Our responses to the situation suffered because of this (the lack of own intelligence),” a senior officer said.
The problem has also come into focus in Naxalite-affected areas, where casualties in the force have been rising. Of its 201 battalions, 170 have been deployed in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir, the Northeast and states facing the Naxalite threat.
Apparently, the finance ministry has argued that since it is the state governments that requisition the CRPF, the force should use their police’s intelligence network.
Ironically, home minister Shivraj Patil has pointed out that the state intelligence units, on which the CRPF is being asked to depend, themselves need to pull up their socks.
Other crack forces don’t appear similarly hobbled. The Border Security Force’s G-wing is famous for its intelligence network, matching central intelligence agencies in areas that matter the most. In Kashmir, the BSF’s and army’s networks are considered critical to operations.
On the Nepal border, the Sashastra Seema Bal is on the prowl. It was set up in 1963, after the China war, and its Arunachal Pradesh wing is also known to be fairly efficient.
Officials feel a force as big as the CRPF not only requires an intelligence division but also needs to be decentralised and structured along the lines of the army.
Commandants in Naxalite zones have often complained about the lack of financial powers, suggesting that formalities to get basic facilities hampered their operations