FOLLOWING the Pulwama terror attack that claimed lives of 40 of its personnel, the CRPF is planning to go beyond providing compensation to families of personnel who die in service, to watching out for their immediate relatives throughout their lives.
“The idea is to keep providing the family counselling on educational needs of their children, helping them with school and college admissions, providing access to good health care and giving prudent financial advice to plan for the future of their children. We should not relinquish our responsibility after paying compensation. Just like the martyr, his next of kin are also a part of the CRPF family,” CRPF Chief RR Bhatnagar told The Indian Express.
Sources said the welfare scheme would not be limited to those who die in a terrorist or Maoist attack but include anyone who dies while in service, whether or not in action.
To put this into operation at the earliest, the force is building a database of family members of all its personnel, including details such as their financial status, educational qualification, health issues, educational requirements of their children, legal wrangles or any other issues of importance.
“This database will help us know the exact status of a personnel’s family, their requirements and the nature of help they may require. Once a soldier dies, this information will help us guide the family to shape its future in the absence of the head of the family,” a senior CRPF officer said.
The country’s largest paramilitary force, with a strength of over 3.5 lakh personnel, the CRPF is deployed in Kashmir and Left Wing Extremist (LWE) areas and loses close to 400 men every year to reasons such as combat, accidents, illness or suicides. In the two main theatres of Kashmir and LWE areas, 40-50 CRPF men are killed every year.
The current compensation package for those who die in combat includes Rs 35 lakh ex-gratia, Rs 15 lakh from a Bharat Ke Veer fund, Rs 30 lakh insurance from the SBI, Rs 20 lakh from the CRPF’s Risk Fund and the late personnel’s basic pay till the time he would have served.
“The compensation is much lower for those who die due to other reasons or die while on leave. All such families need help. Most of our men come from poor backgrounds with little education in the family. Even with handsome compensation, there have been instances where the family has been pushed back to poverty in a few years. This is largely due to relatives duping the immediate family, poor investments or poor decision-making regarding the future,” a senior CRPF officer said.
Now, the CRPF would advise the family on how to use the compensation they receive, including investments they can make to secure the future of their children.
The CRPF is also tying up with corporates to attract CSR funds to build accommodation for CRPF widows in big cities of every state. “Most of the jawans come from interior villages. Even with the money, their families struggle to give a good education to their children as there are no good schools or colleges in the vicinity,” the officer said.
Following the Pulwama attack, the Union Home Ministry has cleared a proposal pending since August 2017 and decided to enhance the monthly risk and hardship allowance for paramilitary troops deployed in sensitive areas of J&K and Naxal-hit areas. The allowance goes up by Rs 7,600 for lower ranks, to Rs 17,300, and by Rs 8,100 for senior officers to Rs 25,000. Now the allowance will apply to almost the entire J&K, barring some areas in Jammu near the International Border.