NEW DELHI: The Centre has decided to make Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a new base for the Rapid Action Force (RAF), the specialised anti-riot and crowd control paramilitary unit of the country. The total number of RAF battalions will now go up to 15. Modi was elected as a Member of Parliament from the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency in the 2014 general elections. The temple town will be the RAF’s fourth base in Uttar Pradesh - the three others being in Meerut, Allahabad and Aligarh.
In January, a total of five battalions of the RAF were sanctioned by the central government.
A senior government functionary said besides Varanasi, the four other new battalions will be based in Jaipur (Rajasthan), Mangalore (Karnataka), Hajipur (Bihar) and Nuh (Haryana). The official added that the process for acquiring land for the five new bases is underway and the five battalions, which are already operational, will start functioning from their permanent locations soon.
A single RAF battalion has a strength of just over 1,000 personnel and it is equipped with gadgets and non-lethal weapons like pump action guns, tear smoke grenade launchers and others to enforce security and law and order in case of protests or riot-like situations. The specialised blue uniform donning force is a part of the Central Reserve Police Force, the country’s largest paramilitary force with over 3 lakh personnel. It was raised and made fully operational in October 1992.
In order to cut down response time and rush the teams in the shortest possible time to counter an exigency situation, the RAF battalions are based in various parts of the country. Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Aligarh, Coimbatore, Jamshedpur, Bhopal and Meerut are some of the cities where the RAF battalions are based.
RAF: A Force to contend with
- RAF is commanded by an Inspector-General of Police (IGP), functioning from Delhi.
- The first five battalions of RAF were raised by October 1992 and an additional 5 battalions were added in April 1994.