Also commonly referred to as paramilitary, the CAPFs perform a multitude of duties, from riot control to counter-insurgency operations, besides guarding the country's borders.
The largest CAPF, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), has been deployed principally in the two most vexing internal security challenges facing India — the strife in Jammu and Kashmir, and Left-wing extremism in central and eastern India.
The Central Armed Police Forces, consisting of six security organisations -- CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP, SSB NSG, have played an important role in the security matrix of India for decades. Also commonly referred to as paramilitary, the CAPFs perform a multitude of duties, from riot control to counter-insurgency operations, besides guarding the country's borders.
The largest CAPF, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), has been deployed principally in the two most vexing internal security challenges facing India — the strife in Jammu and Kashmir, and Left-wing extremism in central and eastern India. It is a different kind of challenge for the BSF, which guards the Bangladesh and Pakistan borders, as the force has to deal with varied topography at the borders that ranges from snow-filled mountains to desert to swamps to riverine areas.
Here are five instances when the CAPF made India a safer place to live:
1) 26/11 Mumbai attacks: The National Security Guard, which was formed after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Operation Blue Star, played a crucial role in 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks. The NSG was tasked to rescue the civilians who were trapped and to neutralise the eight terrorists.
As explosions and gun battles continued throughout the day, the NSG commandos completed the final operation at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, killing all the attackers and resulting in the conclusion of the attacks. The valour of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan of the NSG, who was killed during the rescue of Commando Sunil Yadav and hostages, is still fresh on our minds. The NSG rescued 250 people from the Oberoi, 300 from the Taj and 60 people from Nariman House.
2) Uttarakhand floods: Billed as the biggest relief and rescue operation in recent times, personnel of the Sashastra Seema Bal, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and National Disaster Relief Force along with the Army rescued an estimated 100,000 people during the 2013 Uttarakhand floods.
Risking their lives and working against all odds to save the flood victims, their operations focused on search, rescue, relief and evacuation.
The forces built about two dozen log-crossings all over the affected parts of the state and a major bridge was built at Lambagar in a quick span across the Alaknanda river for people stranded in Badrinath to exit. In other places, where the river was too turbulent and banks too unsafe, helicopter shuttles were started. Leading evacuees to safety by trekking on landslide-hit areas and rickety temporary river crossings was also a major feat of the CAPF personnel.
3) Border skirmishes: The BSF is tasked with guarding the international border with Pakistan in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and parts of Jammu and Kashmir, while the ITBP oversees the 3,488 km long Sino-India border. The BSF was deployed at the most sensitive areas during the Kargil War in 1999.
The BSF also played a major role after a series of border skirmishes with Pakistan began from mid-January 2013 in the disputed Kashmir area. Following unrelenting ceasefire violations from the Pakistan side, BSF personnel attacked a Pakistan border post. The retaliation by the BSF resulted in nine military personnel deaths on the Pakistani side.
The ITBP was involved in a 73-day standoff in Doklam after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began building a road in the area claimed by Bhutan. The ITBP personnel were locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball standoff with Chinese troops near Bishing in Arunachal Pradesh’s Upper Siang district.
4) 2001 Parliament Attack: On December 13, 2001, five heavily armed gunmen stormed the Parliament compound and opened fire, killing 12 people. An hour-long battle ensued and all five terrorists were shot dead by CRPF personnel. All MPs and ministers escaped unhurt. In 2003, the BSF killed Ghazi Baba, chief of Jaish-e-Mohammed and mastermind of the 2001 attack on Indian Parliament along with his deputy commander.
5) Naxal Encounters: Anti-Naxalite operations involve guerrilla warfare and CAPF troops have to be out in the open for long besides dealing with treacherous terrain. In one of the worst tragedies, 25 jawans of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were slaughtered near Burkapal village of Sukma district in the ambush by Naxals on April 24, 2017.
However, since then the CRPF has managed to quell naxalism activities, leading to the surrender of many Maoist leaders. The Gadchiroli encounter, in which 37 Maoists were killed after a four-hour gunfight, was the biggest anti-Maoist operation in over 38 years. The Gadchiroli district is among the worst affected by the Maoist insurgency. Of the 37 Maoists killed in the encounter, three were high-ranking commanders.
Each time our nation has faced a perilous situation, our soldiers have proven their mettle. It is because of them that we can freely breathe, opinionate, and enjoy our lives. They give their time, resources, and even their lives for our safety. It is high time we contributed whatever we can for their families’ well-being.
Bharat Ke Veer is a corpus managed by a committee made up of eminent persons of repute and senior government officials. The fund collected in it is equitably distributed to the Bravehearts’ families on a need basis. If you wish to know more about our CAPF Bravehearts, please click here and donate. We are because they are. Let us help our soldiers and their families lead a better life.