A parliamentary panel has recommended reduction in IPS hegemony over these forces, and for their own cadres to rise to the top.
New Delhi: Officers from the Indian Police Service have taken strong exception to the recommendations made by a parliamentary committee headed by former union minister P. Chidambaram, which asked the government to end their hegemony over the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).
The Parliamentary Committee for Home last month recommended that the services of the IPS officers in these forces be gradually phased out, and their deputation be reduced to just 25 per cent.
CAPFs, earlier known as the paramilitary forces, include the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), the Border Security Force (BSF), the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Assam Rifles (AR), the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the National Security Guard (NSG).
Allowing CAPF cadre officers to head their own forces would not only “go a long way to boost the morale of the CAPFs but will also provide a bigger pool of qualified officers”, the report submitted to Home Ministry in December 2018 said.
Why CAPF officers feel affronted
While each force consists of its own cadres, they are all, as a rule, headed by IPS officers, who occupy the position of the Director-General (DG). Even other positions like the Additional DG, Inspector-General and Deputy IG are mostly reserved for IPS officers.
This has led to enormous resentment among officers of the CAPF cadre, who believe their exclusion from the top ranks in their own forces is “discriminatory and unfair”.
Most CAPF cadre officers ThePrint spoke to were wary of speaking on the record, saying it would antagonise their IPS bosses.
“We work in these forces for decades, but there is a glass ceiling. We can never reach the top,” said a senior CRPF officer. “After some time, a sense of stagnation and dejection begins to set in.”
The “disconnect” between the forces and the IPS officers heading them also leads to command issues, the officer said. “All these forces have an extremely complicated organisational structure, and if the people heading it don’t understand it, it impacts efficiency,” he said.
A CAPF officer with 31 years of service said they were treated as “second-class citizens” in their own force.
“These officers from the IPS have no training or exposure in our forces… They just come and sit at the top, making us feel like second-class citizens,” the officer added.
“Plus, if we have any grievances, we can only approach the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) through them… So, our grievances never end up being communicated properly,” he added. “And even if we somehow manage [to convey our complaints], both the MHA and the department of personnel and training (DoPT) are controlled by IAS and IPS officers, so they pay no heed to us.”
Typically, IPS officers join the CAPFs towards the end of their careers, and have only a year or two to understand the structure, one of the officers quoted above said.
“It takes them 8-10 months to understand the forces, and by then it is time for them to retire,” he added.
However, Aditya Mishra, an IPS officer who has served in the BSF, said this contention was factually incorrect. “The Home Ministry has a clear-cut rule that only an IPS officer who has served at junior positions can be selected as DG or ADG,” he added.
“The point is that, given that these are ultimately police forces, their nature of work is not very different from ours…We only add a humane touch to these forces because of the civil work that we do as IPS officers in different districts,” he said.
‘IPS officers bring the concept of human rights’
While the report has come as a vindication of the sentiments of CAPF officers, IPS officers have deemed the recommendation unnecessary and dangerous.
“IPS officers act as a link between people and the forces, since their approach is non-militarised and compassionate…” Ashish Gupta, secretary of the IPS Association, told ThePrint. “Bringing in people from these forces or the Army to head them would militarise our police forces.
“As police officers, we think of human rights…We are not fighting enemies outside. When there is a Kashmiri or a Naxalite in front of you, you have to think about human rights…That’s where we come in,” Gupta said.
“Moreover, there is a reason why the names of these forces were changed from ‘paramilitary forces’ to ‘police forces’ — it is because they are essentially police forces, so them being headed by IPS officers is in line,” he added.
Dismayed by the recommendations of the committee, the IPS Association is contemplating writing to Chidambaram and the other members. “We were not consulted before the recommendations were made… They should have taken our view on the issue,” Gupta said.
The role of ‘unifiers’ and ‘leaders’
The IPS officers’ view is echoed by the IAS Association.
Weighing in on the debate last week, the IAS Association tweeted: “Deputation of IPS to the CAPFs fulfils the constitutional mandate of the AIS (All India Services) to lead Central Organisations with their rich field experience and people connect as CAPFs are deployed to fight not the enemy outside but the war within.”
IPS officer Mishra said the All India Services — which include IAS, IPS and IFS, among other crucial services — act as “forces of integration” in the country.
“We come from our state cadres, and come on central deputation, and form a reserve for the central government… It is a unifying factor for forces across the country,” he added.
Another point Mishra made was that IPS officers, who are selected through the civil services exam conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), are meant to occupy leadership roles.
“After all, recruitments take place at different levels, and IPS officers are recruited at the highest level, which is meant to give officers for top posts,” he said. “It is a legitimate system of classification.”
Exhausted by what they call “institutionalised discrimination” against their lot, CAPF officers had earlier moved court demanding several benefits given to the “organised services”.
One of their primary demands is non-functional upgradation (NFU) – a monetary benefit given to organised services that allows all officers of a certain batch to get financial upgradation, even if only one of them gets promoted and the others don’t owing to lack of vacancies at the top.
“Our demand was accepted by the Delhi High Court, but again it was challenged by the IPS lobby in the government, and now the Supreme Court judgment is reserved,” a CRPF officer said.
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