With no drinking water, no network and the baking heat of 45 degrees in the open fields of Chhattisgarh, the CRPF personnel fighting Naxalites are up the creek without a paddle. This callous attitude towards our soldiers comes despite the unprecedented attack wherein we lost 25 CRPF men in an ambush in Sukma. The government is calling it the worst attack in seven years in the region.
Images of dead soldiers haunt every media site and many people appear moved to console the grief-stricken families of those who died for the nation. However, our bravehearts need more than platitudes.
Don’t look at the adverts that tell you a life in the army is a very glamourous job, because the truth of the matter is no perks can really make up for the hardships that our soldiers have to deal with when in a terror zone. The plight of CRPF jawans in the red zone is an example of how badly equipped they are while dealing with Maoists. Soldiers need less rhetoric and more action.
To begin with, the government can at least ensure that they are supplied proper drinking water! To quote the home ministry officials, there is an urgent need to improve the condition of CRPF camps as well as facilities offered to the personnel. While Naxalites always have the latest weapons, our jawans don’t.
“Camps of the CRPF need to be upgraded,” Senior Security Adviser in the home ministry K Vijay Kumar said. That is a gross understatement given that the CRPF jawans, who are posted for long stints in the Naxalite hotbed, don’t even have a way of getting in touch with their families to boost their morale. They do not have access to the latest technology or weapons.
The health of the military personnel is quite pitiable. Check out these recent numbers: according to the latest home ministry statistics, seven forces—CRPF, BSF, ITBP, SSB, CISF, NSG and Assam Rifles—have lost 1,067 men in combat or counter-insurgency operations over the last three years. However, more than thrice the number—as many as 3,611 personnel—have died due to illnesses.
In Kashmir, the condition of the soldiers continues to be of great risk and peril with no proper intelligence informing them on a proper course of action. Recently, at the LoC, two soldiers were mutilated and beheaded by Pakistani terrorists. Supported by the Border Action Team, an amalgam of terrorists and Pakistan army regulars sneaked in 250 metres beyond the sanctioned LoC after spreading a rumour that terrorists were preparing landmines near Indian posts in the Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district.
A team of army and BSF was assembled hurriedly, which went to check on the landmines. The unsuspecting troops walked into a surprise attack, 250 metres ahead of the LoC and jawans Naib Subedar Paramjit Singh of 22 Sikh Infantry and Head Constable Prem Sagar of 200th Battalion of BSF died in the encounter when the Pakistani side opened fire indiscriminately, without being provoked. To add insult to injury, their bodies were mutilated and beheaded, although the Pakistani side is now denying it.
This incident is just the tip of the iceberg. We cannot forget the bloody attacks of armed terrorists who just strolled into the army camp in Uri. Here, the official death toll of jawans was 17. After much rhetoric, the incident was forgotten and we seem to be making the same mistakes again. It is time to step up facilities given to our military which works in sensitive areas. Ask the families who lost their sole breadwinners.