Central Reserve Police Force - CRPF - Paramilitary Force India

The Central Reserve Police Force also known as CRPF is a paramilitary security Force functioning under the aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA), Government of India. The CRPF's primary role lies in assisting the State/Union Territories in police operations to maintain law and order and contain insurgency. It came into existence as the Crown Representative's Police on 27 July 1939. After Indian Independence, it became the Central Reserve Police Force on enactment of the CRPF Act on 28 December 1949.

Besides Law and Order and counter-insurgency duties, the role of CRPF in the General Elections, held repeatedly during the past few years, has been very significant and vital. This is especially true for the trouble-ridden states of J&K, Bihar and in the North East. During the Parliamentary elections of September 1999, the CRPF played a major role in the security arrangements. The CRPF is the largest paramilitary force in the world[1] with 210 battalions besides various establishments. Of late, CRPF contingents are also being deployed in UN missions.

CRPF uses basic Infantry weapons such as: FN 35 and Glock 17 9 mm pistols Heckler & Koch MP5 replacing the Carbine 1A 9 mm sub-machine guns INSAS 5.56 mm assault rifles INSAS 5.56 mm light machine guns replacing the Bren L4 machine guns AGS-17 Plamya 30 mm automatic grenade launcher AK 47 and AKM Tavor TAR-21

In addition to these, CRPF also uses land mine detectors.

Central Reserve Police Force: 3.7-400,000 personnel (210+35 battalions) The Central Reserve Police include the Rapid Action Force, a 10 battalion anti-riot force trained to respond to sectarian violence, and the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA), a 10,000 strong anti-Naxalite force.

Role and Functions of the CRPF

The Central Reserve Police Force is an armed Force of the Union of India, with the basic role of striking reserve to assist the State/Union Territories in Police operations to maintain law and order and contain insurgency. Its role is that of a catalyst in maintaining law & order, and returns to barracks once this objective is achieved. The force is also being used for various police duties in various States.

It is All India in character, both in deployment and in its composition. Due to its unique capability to quickly adapt to various situational requirements, and also, to work in perfect harmony with the State Police, CRPF has, over the years, acquired the distinction of being perhaps the most acceptable Force, by the people and the State administrations.

Broad gamut of duties performed by the CRPF are:
  • Crowd control
  • Riot control
  • Counter Millitancy / Insurgency operations.
  • Dealing with Left Wing Extremism
  • Overall co-ordination of large scale security arrangement specially with regard to elections in distrubed areas.
  • Protection of VIPs and vital installations.
  • Checking environmental de-gradation and protection of local Flora and Fauna
  • Fighting aggression during War time
  • Participating in UN Peace Keeping Mission
  • Rescue and Relief operations at the time of Natural Calamities.
Besides Law and Order and counter insurgency duties, the role of CRPF in the General Elections, held repeatedly during the past few years, has been very significant and vital. This is especially true for the trouble torn States of J&K, Bihar and States of North East. During the Parliamentary elections of Sept'99, the CRPF played a major role in the security arrangements.

One of the vital roles of the CRPF, which is not very evident, is guarding vital Central Govt. installations such as Airport, Power houses, Bridges, Doordarshan Kendras, All India Radio Stations, residence of Governers and Chief Ministers, Nationalised Banks and other Government establishments in insurgency affected States. The CRPF is ensuring the safety of the democratic institutions, and preventing the take over of civil society by the militants, in these highly disturbed areas. This contribution of the CRPF, though not very visible, is nonetheless very vital.

7.5% of the Force is deployed for the security of VIPs mostly in North-Eastern States, J&K, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh which include Governors, Chief Ministers, Ministers, MsP and MsLA of J&K, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland, Tripura and Mizoram. CRPF is also providing security (Static guard) at the residence/office of Prime Minister of India, various Union Ministers and MsP and other dignitaries.

17.5% of the Force is deputed for guarding the important installations of Central and State Govts mostly in insurgency affected areas which includes Secretariats, Doordarshan Kendras, Telephone exchanges, Banks, Hydroelectric projects, Jails etc. CRPF is also deployed for the security of Parliament House.

10 Coys of CRPF are deployed for the security of three sensitive shrines i.e. Krishna Janma Bhoomi, Shahi Idgah Masjid complex (Mathura), Ram Janma Bhoomi- Barbi Masjid complex (Ayodhya) and Kashi Vishwanath Temple- Gyanvapi Mosque (Varanasi). 4 Coys of the Force are deputed for the security of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, Katra, Jammu (J&K).

CRPF is the only Para Military Force in the Country which has two Mahila (Ladies) Battalions. After its training in March 1987, 88(M) Bn won laurels for its work assisting the Meerut riots and later with the IPKF in Srilanka. Personnel of second Mahila battalion (135 Bn) performed creditably during the Lok Sabha elections 1996 in many states. At present mahila personnel are deployed in active duty in Jammu & Kashmir, Ayodhya, Manipur, Assam and other parts of the country where they are doing commendable job. In addition each RAF battalion has a Mahila (Ladies) component consisting of 96 personnel.

CRPF Mahila Battalion

With increasing participation of women in politics, agitation and crime, policemen have been feeling handicapped in handling women agitations especially because even a small, real or alleged misdemeanour on their part in dealing with any matter related to women has the potential of turning into a serious law & order problem. To cope with such eventualities the first Mahila Bn in CRPF, the 88(M) Bn was created in 1986 with HQR in Delhi. The successful experiment of the 88 (Mahila) Bn and the ever increasing requirement of a Mahila component in dealing with emerging law and order situation necessitated the raising of the second Mahila Bn the 135(M) Bn with HQR at Gandhinagar (Guj). in 1995.

Role of Rapid Action Force

To rush to a place of communal incidents with 'Zero response time' and deal with such situations with the dexterity and expertise, to be especially acquired by the Force To render succour to the innocent persons ravaged by riots

Parameters for Deployment

  1. For optimum and effective utilisation of Force, certain parameters have been laid down in the orders issued by MHA:-
  2. To be deployed for short spells. Prolonged deployment at any particular place to be avoided under all circumstances.
  3. To be deployed to deal with other internal security duties only during certain emergent needs for short durations- and thereafter return to their base Hqrs.


The increasing communal tensions and riots during the early nineties had been putting a serious strain on the secular structure of Indian Society. Consequently the Government took a well considered decision to set up a special anti-riot force which could reach the place of occurrence with the quickest possible speed and deal with communal riot or riot-like situation in an absolutely objective and non-partisan manner.

The RAF was raised by converting 10 existing CRPF Bns. Young CRPF personnel with quick reflexes, maturity and un-biased views were selected and posted to these Bns. Five Bns became functional during October 1992 while the remaining five became operational in April 1994. The area of responsibility of each RAF Bn is approximately 400 Kms radious from the Bn HQr. The special features of the RAF are that each team is independently operational and mobile. They have a distinctive uniform and have to act in zero response time. Each Coy has a Mahila component and additional Para-medical staff for first aid, rescue and relief. In between spells of duty, RAF undertake intensive familiarisation exercises in communally sensitive areas to familiarise themselves with the area. To make bridges with the public, RAF also undertakes socially useful work such as children education, adult literacy, tree plantation, medical camps, hygiene education etc. and also adoption of villages for all round focused development.

RAF was recently deployed in highly sensitive situations in Mumbai during Ganesh Utsava, in Karnataka after kidnapping of Kannada film star Raj Kumar and in Malpura (Rajasthan) during communal riot to maintain law and order.


The following points were kept in view:-

Age group of constabulary to be between 20-27 years and junior leaders to be between 30-35 years to keep the perpetually young.

Inclusion of personnel already having a few years of service with qualities of direction and drive to ensure that the personnel have the required maturity for the delicate duties required to be performed.

A composite character with fair representation of minorities and weaker sections to be maintained by re-grouping and re-shuffling the personnel from other Bns of the CRPF.

RAF activities during last few years

100 Bn RAF went through its first fire test in 1994 when it assisted the Civil Administration in Surat (Gujrat) during the out break of Plague which had assumed gignatic proportions. RAF proved its worth in dealing with such type of natural calamity by evacuating a large number of plague victims to hospitals and assisted civil and para medical staff in tackling the gruesome situation.

RAF Units have been in the forefront in organising Medical Relief Camps. The following relief camps were organised:-

i) I0l Bn- Organised medical relief camp in Allahabad during Kumbh Mela in 1995 and provided medical aid to a large number of pilgrims.
ii) 103 Bn- Organised medical camps at Natthupura, Karwalnagar, and Sabhapur and provided medicines to sick and needy people in 1995.
iii) 108 Bn- Organised medical relief and public awareness camp at Ghaziabad, which was attended by more than 400 villagers who were provided with free medicines in 1995.
iv) When Dengue fever epidemic spread all over the capital, 3 medical camps were established by RAF Bn at Mehrauli, Gokulpuri and Sultanpuri where more than 5,000 patients were educated and provided with preventive medicines.
v) All RAF Units are organising routine Medical camps in their respective location on the occasions of Pulse Polio Eradication Programme.
vi) Three Days Medical camps were organised at Nand Nagari (East Delhi) and at Rajiv Gandhi Smrithi Van (Sarai Kale Khan) South Delhi from 11/11/99 to 13/11/99 under the arrangements of RAF Sector to provide medical aid to poor people living in slum areas of the city. As many as 8,577 patients were provided medical treatment free of cost.

RAF has also actively assisted in relief and rescue work :-

On 11.6.95, a tourist party consisting of two men and woman were washed away in heavy currents of Narmada river at Neelkantheshwar Mahedev Mandir in Bharuch (Guj). Personnel of B/107 RAF, deployed in that area, jumped immediately into the river without caring for their own lives, and rescued all of them.

On 13.7.95, a powerful bomb exploded in a private bus in Saharanpur (UP). A contingent of D/108 RAF conducting familiarisation exercise close by, immediately rushed to the site and rescued the injured passengers from the burning bus and evacuated them to hospital, thus saving many precious lives.

On 20/8/95, a major train accident took place between the Purshottam and Kalindi Express near Firozabad railway station. Two Coys of 101 Bn RAF which were deployed in Faizabad, immediately rushed to the accident site to extricate the casualties and evacuated the injured passengers to hospital.

On 3/9/95, a three storied Hotel collapsed in heavy rain in Meerut. Personnel of D/108 RAF rushed to the site and assisted local authorities in extricating three severely wounded persons. Five dead bodies were also traced and pulled out from the debris.

Personnel of 101 Bn RAF rescued victims trapped in a wall collapse in Ayodhya (U.P.) on 26th March, 1996, and evacuated them to hospital.

On 11 June’1998, the RAF contingent gave valuable assistance to the people and Government of Gujrat, in relief and rescue work around Kandla Port in West Gujrat which was struck by a devastating cyclone. One Coy of 100 Bn RAF was rushed to the area, carried out rescue and relief work up to 20th June’98, earning a good name for the Force.

A Coy of 106 Bn RAF carried out rescue and relief operations for 45 days in Gangtok (Sikkim) which had been severely hit by devastating land slides. The Coy rescued a number of people and salvaged large amounts of cash, valuables etc.

In 1998 the RAF organised two Medical Camps in Sultanpuri and Gokulpuri areas of Delhi in its effort to assist Civil Administration to contain the spread of Dropsy, Dengue and other contagious diseases. More than 5,000 patients turned up for medical check up and blood testing. They were also provided with preventive medicines and educated on the awareness of various diseases.

On 1/4/99, a sudden fire broke out in Sanjay Market, Jamshedpur. Personnel of D/Coy 106 Bn RAF rushed to the spot and despite injuries, gave valuable assistance in relief and rescue work.

Four Coys of 99 Bn and 2 Coys of 106 Bn RAF actively assisted the Civil Administration in Orissa in the relief and rescue operation after the devastating cyclone hit the State in October 1999. The personnel worked tirelessly to rescue marooned and affected personnel and provided them succour. The relief provided included:

(a) Distribution of 104 truck loads of rescue and relief materials in 105 Gram Panchayats feeding approximately 1,25,000 families.
(b) Medical camps in different areas providing medical aid to about 9,031 patients.
(c) Milk camps for infants, children and lactating mothers.
(d) Cremation of 413 bodies recovered from the cyclone affected areas

Besides the above, CRPF units deployed in J&K and NES have carried out Civic Action Programmes in far-flung and interiors of such areas. Free medicines, books, study materials, sports items were distributed, apart from construction of temporary/semi permanent buildings for schools, bathrooms/toilets etc. by CRPF Units, which has been much appreciated by the local administration and local people. By conducting Civic Action Programmes, CRPF have taken a step forward for consolidation of peace gained the confidence of the local populace.

Central Reserve Police Force is a versatile Force of all India character. The Force is primarily used to aid and assist the States and thus comtemporary internal security scenario of the country has a direct bearing on its operational commitments and responsibilities. Depending upon the internal security situations cropping up in different parts of the country, the Force is rushed at short notice by quickest available means to tackle the situation.

The Force has the distinction of undertaking such frequent and cross country operational moves at short notice and thus plays a vital role towards maintenance of security and integrity of the country.

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