I have been serving the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) for over 12 years now and it has been a worthwhile ride. CISF is responsible for providing security to PSUs and major infrastructure installations across the country which include, metro stations, nuclear installations, space establishments, airports, seaports, power plants, important government buildings and heritage monuments. We are also called upon to to provide security cover to VIPs and actively participate in disaster management activities. We are constantly on high-alert at our jobs, much like army personnel. But are we accorded the same amount of respect?
The answer, unfortunately is no. Even though we carry a heavy burden of responsibility on our shoulders. The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) – which include the CISF, CRPF etc – and other paramilitary forces aren’t accorded the same amount of respect. The Pulwama attack has shown how vulnerable we, the non-defence forces are, in the face of danger.
The Pulwama attack left me shocked and angry. I am glad that the government took a quick and decisive action with its air strikes at Balakot. At least we got a temporary feeling of closure. The previous governments would have just lived on in the ‘hope’ of situations changing and not taking any decisive action. However, this doesn’t mean I do not want to question the huge lapse of intelligence agencies that led to the Pulwama attack. The government should have taken better care of the logistical needs of the CRPF personnel.
While the armed forces are the ‘first line of defence’ in war situations, forces like CRPF and CISF are ‘first line of defence’ in almost any kind of situation. And we have restricted powers when it comes to using the arms we have. I feel it is now important for the top brass to talk to personnel, who constitute this ‘first line of defence’. After all, we are the ones who see the enemy/perpetrators from close quarters.
The Pulwama attack also led the common man to think about the implications of a war and war-like situations. The ‘first line of defence’ now has a human face. We too have families that worry about us when we are out performing our respective duties. At the end of the day our concerns are same as that of any the common man: that our families be financially sound, healthy and safe. I strongly feel that major issues such as, the economy, healthcare, and education are not side-lined in the name of just protecting ourselves from external threats. I have been a BJP supporter and will continue to vouch for Narendra Modi’s second stint as the Prime Minister. But that doesn’t mean that I would not question the government’s decisions.
The CAPF constitutes the Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Sahastra Seema Bal (SSB). The paramilitary forces are Coast Guard, Assam Rifles and Special Frontier Force (and other forces like NSG- National Security Guard and RR- Rashtriya Rifles). They all come under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs and are governed by the Civil Service rules, that allows them to serve till their superannuation. However, if they can also choose they can take voluntary retirement after 20 years of service. But in either case they are not accorded with ex-servicemen status. After retirement they have to search for jobs just like an ordinary civilian, which is hard to come by.
Be it the Parliament attack, numerous Naxal attacks across the country or even attacks during election duties, we are always in the line of fire and yet we don’t get the facilities or even status of a martyr, in case someone loses their lives during service. Be it industrial conflict or those related to militancy or terrorism, life is at risk everywhere.
We need to feel cared for and respected to function at the optimum.The name and certain facts were withheld by LokMarg on the request of the narrator. Photo used is representational.