In the wake of Independence, a contentious administrative issue was over the retention of CRP (Crown Representative Police). As the Constitution designated ‘law and order’ as a State subject, the relevance of having a Central police force was questioned by everyone, except Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who argued vehemently and boldly in favour of it.
From having just two battalions as the CRP, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has now expanded to being a three-and-a-half lakh-strong force consisting of specialist wings like the Rapid Action Force, the COBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), and the Special Duty Group. It is the largest paramilitary force in the world and no other security force of the country has seen expansion at such a rapid rate.
Providing integrated security to a diverse country of continental size is not an easy task. Resolving certain conflicts requires immediate solutions for which regular armed forces cannot be deployed. Hence, we require paramilitary forces, and the CRPF is the most sought-after one because of its flexibility and versatility. The force has earned its place as the ‘peacekeeper of the nation’.
April 9 is observed as ‘Valour Day’ by the CRPF because it was on this day in 1965 that an ordinary battalion of the CRPF repulsed an attack by a Pakistani brigade. Similarly, October 21 is observed as ‘Commemoration Day’ by all police forces, as a mark of respect to the CRPF soldiers who, in their fight against the Chinese Army in 1959, at Hot Springs, Leh, made the supreme sacrifice.
However, this glowing track record pales into insignificance when we consider the mass casualties the Force has had to suffer. In April 2010, at least 75 of its soldiers were killed by Maoists, numbering about 300