Paramilitary: Stressed Out Indian Special Police


February 25, 2006: India, with a population of over a billion people, and several dozen terrorist, separatist and rebel organizations to worry about, has long depended on a special national police force to deal with the violence and unrest generated by these armed, and angry, groups. One of the principal national police organizations dealing with terrorists and rebels is the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Founded in 1939, and retained when India became independent in 1947, the CRPF now has 165,000 personnel. It deploys 70 battalions of para-military police. These include seven "rapid action" battalions that can be quickly sent to any part of the country, to deal with outbreaks of violence.

The last decade has seen the CRPF worked harder than ever before. The Islamic terrorist campaign in Kashmir has tied down nearly half the force. Continued tribal separatism in the northeast, Maoist (communist) rebels in eastern India, Hindu nationalists and Tamil rebels have all required the attention of CRPF. As a result, the CRPF is seeing a growing incidence of what can best be described as combat fatigue (or, as it is now known, PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.) The suicide rate among CRPF members has risen, as has the incidents of CRPF men going berserk and killing fellow officers. There have also been more family problems. CRPF commanders have recognized the problem, and are trying to come up with reforms and new programs to lessen the stress. The basic problem is too much work, and not enough people to do it. Exhortations to "take it like a man and do your duty," only go so far.

The CRPF being openly aware of the problem is a help, as are programs to make families aware of what things they can do to help, and what things to avoid. The CRPF is also looking to other countries with similar problems, and trying to adapt foreign solutions to Indian needs.


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