New Delhi: The Union government’s commitment to reserve 10 per cent of recruitment into central police forces for retiring Agniveer soldiers would create around a thousand jobs each year for troops who end their service after their four-year contracts, figures from the Union Home Ministry’s Bureau of Police Research and Development, or BPR&D, reveal.
Even if all of India’s state police forces — which are controlled by state governments — also made the same 10 per cent commitment, only some 10,000 additional positions would be available for retiring Agniveer soldiers, the data shows.
Under the Agnipath scheme, three-fourths of the estimated 45,000 Agniveer soldiers recruited each year will be retired at the end of their tenures.
The government has been looking to central and state police jobs as a means of ensuring post-service employment. The figures suggest some 20,000 retiring personnel would still have to find opportunities outside the central and state police services.
“There is already a 10 per cent quota for former Indian Army soldiers wanting to join central and state police forces,” a senior police officer told ThePrint on condition of anonymity. “The large bulk of applicants have so far sought placement in mid-career positions, though, not the constable-grade positions which the much younger Agniveers will be eligible for.”
Another police officer involved in recruitment, who did not wish to be named, said “for state governments, this will be a politically tough call, because every police job that an Agniveer takes is one job that some other young person from the state will not get”.
“It will be very complex to balance opportunities for Agniveer soldiers from a given state with opportunities in that particular police force, because recruitment isn’t constant,” the officer added.
Central police recruitment
For 2020 — the latest year for which data has been made available — the BPR&D’s records show that the nine central police forces together hired some 8,787 personnel to the ranks of constable, head constable and assistant sub-inspector.
The largest part of this was made up of hiring by the Railway Protection Force, which inducted 6,498 constables.
There are nine central police forces controlled by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs — the Border Security Force (BSF), the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Railway Protection Force (RPF), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the Assam Rifles, the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), and the National Security Guard (NSG).
In 2019, these nine forces together recruited 14,283 personnel in subordinate ranks. Again, the RPF made up the largest chunk of recruitment.
In 2018, 26,478 constables and 2,818 junior officers were recruited into the central police forces, with the CRPF accounting for the bulk of the intake.
The total sanctioned strength of the central police forces is 11,09,969, of which 9,80,677 positions are filled. The largest of these forces, the CRPF, has 3,24,723 positions, of which 2,96,393 are staffed.
State police makes larger hires
Far larger in terms of numbers, the state police forces also recruit more personnel. In 2020, the states, put together, hired 72,250 police constables and another 1,110 head constables. About two thirds of this recruitment took place in a single state, Uttar Pradesh, which recruited 49,699 constables and 1,099 head constables.
In 2019, 1,05,353 constables were recruited — with Uttar Pradesh again making up the bulk with 47,897, followed by Telangana with 14,933.
In 2018, 1,44,815 constables and 5,875 sub-inspectors were recruited, the bulk in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.
These large-scale recruitments were made to fill up large gaps between the sanctioned strength of police forces, and their actual number of personnel.
For much of the last decade, police recruitment happened on a much smaller scale, with the intake of constables ranging from 23,359 to 31,449, and of junior officer ranks from 384 to 2,541. The cutback in hiring was made because of budgetary constraints.
Large gaps continue to exist between the sanctioned strengths of constables, in spite of recruitment drives in recent years. The state police forces together are 3,21,510 constables short of the target of 16,34,633.
Similarly, the strength of head constables is 89,665 short of the target of 5,01,615. The larger states are uniformly short of their sanctioned strength by between 10 and 25 per cent.
Filling these gaps will need significant enhancements in police budgets. State governments, according to the BPR&D records, have cut spending on police forces nationwide, with budgets either static or declining in real terms.
Training budgets, used to prepare new recruits for their jobs, have also been static.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)