New Delhi: A top Central Reserve Police Force officer has launched a campaign to bar personnel who have medical conditions from being paid a special monthly allowance that is given to all forces deployed in conflict areas such as Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalism-hit regions.
The idea comes close on the heels of a controversial decision by the Modi government to tax the disability pension given to armed forces personnel who are disabled in the line of duty but manage to complete service.
The reasoning behind the idea floated by G.H.P. Raju, an IPS officer who is serving as the CRPF inspector-general in Chhattisgarh, is to “avoid audit objection in future”.
Pushing his idea, Raju has written to all IGs of the CRPF, the special director-general and an additional director-general that personnel categorised as “low medical cases” or LMCs be stripped off the monthly risk allowance.
LMCs in the force are personnel who are categorised for having a SHAPE condition – Psychological, Hearing, Appendages, Physical or Eye. “Basically, it includes anyone with a hearing impairment, asthma, diabetes, psychological problems, etc.,” a senior CRPF officer said.
All CRPF personnel posted in J&K and Naxalism-hit areas are eligible to draw Rs 17,300/month up to the rank of inspector, and Rs 25,000/month for officers, as ‘risk and hardship allowance’.
The allowance was increased in February after 40 CRPF personnel were killed in the suicide bomb attack by Jaish-e-Mohammed in Pulwama.
ThePrint reached Raju, a 1993-batch IPS officer, for comment on his letter but he did not respond.
A senior CRPF officer, however, said that Raju’s logic to deny high-risk allowance to LMC personnel is probably because they anyway do not have high-risk jobs even if they are posted in sensitive areas. “Therefore, he may have thought that giving them the risk allowance is a wasteful expenditure, which is a very unfair thing to do.”
Deputy Inspector General and chief spokesperson of the CRPF M. Dinakaran told ThePrint that the letter is being reviewed by Director-General R.R. Bhatnagar.
‘Stop allowance forthwith’
In his letter, Raju also suggested that personnel categorised as LMC should be removed from Naxalism-hit areas altogether.
“Allowing them to draw R1H1 (risk and hardship) risk allowance amounts to extending undue favour to these case (sic) at the cost of government exchequer which must be stopped forthwith to avoid audit objection in future,” the letter, dated 21 August, said.
“It is also requested that necessary instructions may kindly be issued to respective DDOs (drawing and disbursing officers) not to draw R1H1 risk allowance to the LMC cases posted in SOZ (special operation zone) units of your sector,” it added.
Raju’s letter also said that LMC troops should be recalled from SOZ areas “for the larger interest of the counter Naxal operations”.
“SOZ is a high conflict zone where every CRPF person is expected to maintain highest level of physical fitness and remain battle ready to be inducted into intense counter Naxal operations at a very short notice.”
Raju’s letter has caused much consternation in the force, with a senior CRPF officer saying this is a “classic case of IPS officers not empathising with the conditions in which these troops work and imposing their own ideas”.
“The letter has already created a lot of resentment in the force because troops who have developed health issues cannot be discriminated against, especially since a lot of their problems are a consequence of tough postings and stress,” the CRPF officer, who did not wish to be named, added.
S.S. Sandhu, a retired CRPF officer, echoed the view, saying the suggestion was “deeply unfair” since a lot of troops become LMC cases in the line of duty. “Troops can become asthmatic, develop a frostbite, lose a limb, etc. in the line of their duty…How can they not give them the risk allowance?” he said.
Sandhu also said the letter was “illegal” since an IG has no authority to request other IGs to withdraw an allowance given to personnel. “At most, he can give a suggestion to the DG or the ministry (of Home Affairs), but he has no authority to write such a letter,” he added.