Don’t treat paramilitary forces as substitute for police: MHA

Amid West Bengal’s objection to withdrawal of central forces from Darjeeling, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked states not to treat paramilitary forces as a “substitute” to state police.

Developing a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for processing the requests of deployment in states, the MHA has said such applications should be made only in emergency.

“State governments often make requests to the Centre for deployment of CAPFs (Central Armed Paramilitary Forces) even for occasions where state should normally in a position to take all security measures from their own resources by dispatching police and state armed police,” according to a communication to the states.

“State governments are reluctant to de-induct CAPFs and keep requesting the extension which should not ordinarily be made unless there are adequate security reasons for their extension,” it added.

A senior official said the MHA has to deal with a number of requests from the states “at the drop of the hat” for paramilitary deployment and this is “not an ideal situation”. He cited the recent objections from Bengal government and it approaching Kolkata High court over withdrawal of forces from the restive Darjeeling.

According to the SOP, paramilitary forces would be able to meet “more pressing commitments” like guarding borders, fighting insurgency, anti-naxal operations and in “related situations which need immediate mobilisation” of forces.

“CAPFs cannot substitute the state police force as their deployment is related to emergency/unforeseen crisis in states for maintaining law and order,” the MHA said.

It noted that the Centre has sanctioned India Reserve Battalions in the states, whose purpose s to make states self sufficient in dealing with the law and order and internal security situation by avoiding being dependent on paramilitary forces.

The MHA has now advised the states to set up a state-level committee under the chairmanship of Additional Director General (Law and Order) where local representatives of Intelligence Bureau and paramilitary forces may be co-opted.

These committees should examine and scrutinise the requirements of paramilitary forces by keeping in view of internal security, previous scale of deployment, optimal utilisation of state resouces, intelligence inputs and availability of forces in nearby locations.

Its recommendation for deployment or extension of deployment should be specific and indicate the quantum of forces needed along with solid reasons to back their views.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Oct 20, 2017)

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