Home Ministry, Mufti Govt oppose BSF replacement by CRPF
13 August 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: Even as the higher-ups in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) continue to send out signals vis-a-vis the CRPF’s preparedness to replace the Border Security Force (BSF) in Jammu and Kashmir, the possibility of the CRPF’s induction for internal security duties in the troubled State is ruled out for the present. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) does not want the CRPF to replace the BSF for internal security duties in J&K in the given situation. Top sources in the MHA told EXCELSIOR that the decision to withhold, if not abandon, the proposal on the replacement of the BSF by the CRPF for internal security duties and counter-insurgency operations had followed two developments. First, of course, was the 'stiff opposition' to the proposal from the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. Second development, sources divulged, was the outcome of the opposition from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which favoured the status quo. Following high-level consultations by mandarins of the MoD with security and intelligence specialists, the Army Headquarters dash off a missive to the Ministry of Home Affairs against the replacement of BSF by the CRPF for internal security duties in Jammu and Kashmir. The Army Headquarters’ note, source said, had voiced 'apprehensions' about the CRPF’s competence to deal with internal security and counter- insurgency operations in the Valley and in Poonch, Rajouri and Doda districts of Jammu region. Clearly holding the brief for BSF’s superiority over the CRPF’s striking capabilities in inhospitable sectors of Jammu and Kashmir, the Army Headquarters’ missive recommended 'Each force should be judged as per its capabilities'. According to sources, the Army Headquarters also advanced equally significant suggestion CRPF personnel need to be trained at least for two years before their induction for duties in the most sensitive State of J&K. Yet another suggestion to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Army can be expected for its direct involvement in the task of imparting the CRPF with pre-induction training. Sources also told EXCELSIOR that considering the 'fact' that the Deputy Prime Minister, LK Advani, and the rest in the Home Ministry do not want to take any chances in J&K, the CRPF replacing the BSF in the troubled State 'in the near future is ruled out'. Home Ministry sources confirmed that Mufti Mohammed Sayeed has had more than one meeting with Advani in recent times against the replacement of BSF by the CRPF. Yet another development, which is quite likely to delay the exercise of inducting the CRPF in J&K for internal security and counter-insurgency operations, relates to the disclosure made by Lt. Gen. Shantonu Chowdhury, Vice-Chief of Army Staff 'We have radio intercepts that indicate that terrorists could be making attempts to use chemicals and explosives'. For obvious reasons Lt. Gen. Chowdhury did not elaborate. But he let it be known that there were also reports of terrorists in J&K using chemical devices, or 'dirty bombs'. Sources said that at a time when the Army and BSF 'have intensified their joint activity to block infiltration routes favoured by militant in J&K', the strategic planners in the Ministry of Home Affairs and MoD would not like the BSF troops getting disturbed. Compared to the CRPF fighters, the BSF is better qualified and positioned in the field of electronic warfare system. At a time when the Army has also involved an unspecified number of BSF personnel in installing electronic warfare system to cut off the ability of Pakistan-based commanders of terrorist outfits to communicate with and pass instructions to militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir, the Home Ministry as well as MoD would appreciate if the idea of inducting CRPF in place of BSF was dropped for the present.