Despite CRPF in the forefront of facing three internal security challenges, terrorism in the Kashmir Valley, insurgency in the Northeast and left-wing extremism (LWE) in Central India, the CRPF does not offer Counter Insurgency and Anti-Terror (CIAT) related course in any of these locations.
CRPF IG Rajnish Rai, a senior officer to the CRPF headquarters in New Delhi, in a series of letters between January and November 2018 had highlighted the poor condition of its counter-terror training apparatus. Rai was serving as CRPF IG (Northeast Sector) till June of 2017 when he was transferred to take charge of a CIAT school in Chittoor.
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Rai, on November 22, 2018 wrote that full strength of officers – men were posted at CIAT School, since its inception, with salaries and allowances for the personnel but no training was conducted. Established in 2014, the Chittoor School is spread over 175 acres. However, Rai through his letters brought the authorities to notice that only 39 training staff has been sanctioned for around 800 personnel. And out of 15 sanctioned officers in supervisory roles, only four are ‘physically present’.
Rai said “Chittoor School has not conducted a training needs analysis and there is ‘no clear direction for providing counter-terror training. There is no boundary wall or fencing, battle obstacle assault course infrastructure, running track and IED lane for IED-related training. The 169 acres land allotted for the firing range is stuck in a land dispute and the state police range, 70 km away is subject to availability. There is also lack of access to a jungle and no indoor classrooms for elaborate training on jungle survival, or sand-model tutorials.”
He has also pointed out that the five sanctioned bore-wells are not adequate for the three storage tanks of 8 lakh litres each.
A senior official agrees that Chittoor School has no infrastructure. He says there is no proper infrastructure at the Silchar and Shivpuri Schools either. “Bureaucracy has its own pace but as officers we have to learn to use the resources available to us in the best possible way. Some kind of training could have been started at Chittoor. After all, PI training is also a form of counter-terror training,” the officer said.
Rai pointed out that PI training introduces participants to the new operational theatres, and CIAT training are essential for understanding the geographical and cultural terrain, operational tactics and the psychological profiles of insurgents and terrorists. “While PI training provides perspectives on challenges facing an operational theatre, strategic insights on how to deal with insurgents and terrorists in specific contexts can be acquired only through in-depth CIAT training” he added. Though not commenting on Rai’s letters, the CRPF says it has multiple centres across the country and provides training to soldiers and officers in over 20 different courses. Its programme ranges from basic training for recruits to jungle warfare and IED training.