NEW DELHI: Not all battles are fought on the battlefront. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is fighting a losing war against AIDS, losing an average 20 men each year to the disease since 2009.
On an average, a little over 31 new cases of HIV-infected personnel have been screened during the last eight years.
According to data accessed from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the CRPF—whose main role is to assist states and Union Territories in police operations to maintain law and order and contain insurgency—lost 19 men in 2015, 18 in 2016 and four so far this year to AIDS. The CRPF operates in Naxal-hit areas, the Northeast and is involved anti-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
The cumulative number of HIV+ cases in the CRPF that stood at 591 (from 1991 to 2009) in 2009 surged to over 950 last year owing to detection of fresh cases. Till 2016, the total number of People Living with HIV/AIDS was 521 and those on Anti-retroviral Therapy were 359. From 1991 to 2016, 950 personnel have been afflicted by AIDS.
The highest number of AIDS deaths, 45, was in 2009. The same year saw most number of new cases, 40. The least number of AIDS deaths since 2009, four, was in 2010. The lowest figure for new cases, 24, was in 2015.
Besides succumbing to AIDS, 35 CRPF personnel committed suicide in 2015, followed by 26 in 2016 and 16 this year. In 2015, 57 personnel died in accidents; 82 in 2016 and 17 this year. Since 2015, 219 troopers died of heart attacks and 20 were lost to malaria.
Besides AIDS, heart attacks, depression and suicides have taken 24 times more CRPF men’s lives than in operations against Naxals in the last two years.
Five CRPF men were killed in 2015, 31 in 2016 and 13 till April 4 this year in the three worst Naxal-hit states—Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
In contrast, the CRPF lost 476 men in 2016 and 407 in 2015 to heart attacks, malaria and suicides.