- As the Army moves in to take over the COVID-19 quarantine facility at Narela in Delhi, the procedure for calling the armed forces to help the civil administration is in the spotlight.
- Current case of checking the spread of COVID-19: it is different, as the medical aspect is predominant.
- Difference in role this time: The major difference is that specialists are the key in the current situation, and their tasks cannot be performed by general duty soldiers.The current situation is different from Tsunami or super cyclones.
- The roles of the Ministries of Health, Home, Civil Aviation and Defence are predominant in this case.
- The armed forces are aligned with them at the apex level viz NCMC. The directions are followed by execution-level coordination which is done by respective secretaries in the government.
Procedure to call armed forces
- Purpose for calling Armed Forces: Controlling law and order, maintaining essential services, assisting during natural calamities such as earthquakes, and any other type of help that may be needed by the civil authorities.
- Armed forces can be asked to provide troops and equipment for a flag march, rescue and relief, evacuation, and immediate aid.
- Legal provisions for Requisitioning armed forces:
- ‘Aid to Civil Authorities’ under the guidelines laid in Instructions on Aid to the Civil Authorities by the Armed Forces, 1970;
- Regulations for the Army, Chapter VII, Paragraphs 301 to 327; and
- Manual of Indian Military Law, Chapter VII.
- Costs incurred by the armed forces in these roles:
- The cost of assistance provided by the Armed Forces is recovered in accordance with the instructions contained in Appendix ‘H’ to the Pamphlet ‘Instructions on Aid to Civil Authorities by the Armed Forces 1970’.
Task expected by armed forces to perform in current crisis:
- Maintenance of law and order, crowd control, curfew in sensitive areas.
- Evacuation of civilians from affected areas, provision of essential supply of electricity and water.
- Restoration of essential services, emergency feeding and shelter, prevention of panic, prevention of theft and loot.
- Guarding quarantine locations and detention centres, surveillance through drones aerial platforms, and other miscellaneous tasks.
What happens to the primary role when armed forces are called in such situations?
- Providing aid to civil authorities, as and when called upon to do so, is a secondary task for the armed forces.
- Primary role of armed forces: ensuring external security and operational preparedness.
- For instance, there have been 53 ceasefire violations on the LoC which the Army has responded to and the Navy also continues to be operational on its various mission-based deployments, while taking all the precautions to prevent infection from foreign ports.
Limitation on such deployments
- No ceiling on such deployments:There is no such ceiling either of duration of deployment or on the number of armed forces personnel that can be deployed to aid civil authority.
- Final authority to decide deployments: The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), headed by the cabinet secretary, is the final authority.
Contribution of Armed forces so far:
- Quarantine facilities
- In Mumbai, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Hindon, Manesar and Chennai.
- Over 1,700 persons have been kept at these centres so far, of whom over 400 have been released.
- 15 other facilities on standby, capacity of approximately 7,000. The Army runs 6 (Babina, Jhansi, Barmer, Bhopal, Kolkata, Binnaguri), IAF another 6 (Bhatinda, Hyderabad, Deolali, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Agra), the Navy 3 (Vizagapatam, Kochi, Chilka).
- Medical Aid and Testing
- 51 armed forces hospitals are preparing dedicated COVID-19 facilities including High Dependency Units (scaled-down version of an Intensive Care Unit), and ICU beds.
- Five medical teams are also on standby for deployment in Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan.
- 5 testing labs at armed forces hospitals made part of the national grid.
- Evacuation and Essential Services
- Special IAF flights have evacuated people and carried medical supplies.
- 60 tonnes of stores airlifted by IAF transport fleet has airlifted approximately to various parts of the country.
- The Central Reserve Police Force came into existence as Crown Representative’s Police on 27th July 1939.
- It became the Central Reserve Police Force on enactment of the CRPF Act on 28th December 1949.
- It has completed 80 years of glorious history.
- The Force has grown into a big organization with 246 Bns, (including 208 executive Bns, 6 Mahila Bns, 15 RAF Bns, 10 CoBRA Bns, 5 Signal Bns and 1 Special Duty Group, 1 Parliament Duty Group), 43 Group Centres, 20 Training Institutions, 3 CWS, 7 AWS, 3 SWS, 4 Composite Hospitals of 100 bed and 17 Composite Hospitals of 50 bed.
- The mission of the Central Reserve Police Force shall be to enable the government to maintain Rule of Law, Public Order and Internal Security effectively and efficiently, to Preserve National Integrity and Promote Social Harmony and Development by upholding supremacy of the Constitution.
Role of CRPF
- Crowd control
- Riot control
- Counter Militancy / Insurgency operations.
- Dealing with Left Wing Extremism
- Overall coordination of large scale security arrangement especially with regard to elections in disturbed areas.
- Protection of VIPs and vital installations.
- Checking environmental degradation and protection of local Flora and Fauna
- Fighting aggression during War time
- Participating in UN Peacekeeping 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.
- Guarding vital Central Govt. installations such as Airport, Powerhouses, Bridges, Doordarshan Kendras, All India Radio Stations, residence of Governors and Chief Ministers, Nationalised Banks and other Government establishments in insurgency affected States.
- During the Chinese aggression of 1962, the Force assisted the Indian Army in Arunachal Pradesh. Eight CRPF personnel were killed in action.
- In 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars also the Force fought shoulder-to-shoulder with the Indian Army, both on the Western and Eastern borders.
- For the first time in the history of paramilitary Forces in India, thirteen companies of CRPF including a detachment of women were airlifted to join the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka to fight the militant caders.
- In the late seventies, when the extremist elements disturbed peace in Tripura and Manipur, CRPF battalions were deployed in strength.
Image Source: Economist.com