Exodus in uniform: Stress forces more than 51,000 paramilitary men to quit in just five years as army battles to keep up to strength

The country’s paramilitary forces are battling alarmingly high attrition rates. In around five years, as many as 51,201 personnel out of approximately 7.26 lakh have hung up their boots.

The number of those who have preferred to trade their uniforms for civvies is close to the total strength of Assam Rifles – the oldest of these forces.

The extent of job disaffection is particularly worrying in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Security Force (BSF).

The details were divulged in a recent internal document circulated by the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) among the directors general of all these forces.

The report, which has been accessed by Mail Today, termed the trend ‘alarming’ prompting the Union government to turn to IIM, Ahmedabad. Consequently, a crack team from the prestigious management institute which imparts lessons in corporate warfare has now got down to the business of devising a strategy for improving job satisfaction levels among officers and jawans of paramilitary forces.

Official sources said IIM-A had been engaged as a consultant to design a long-term plan for stress management among paramilitary forces by way of an “extensive study covering officials of the BSF and CRPF”. Dheeraj Sharma, the IIM-A associate professor who is heading the study, declined to comment saying the matter was ‘confidential and sensitive’.

While the CRPF and BSF are the biggest and most crucial central paramilitary organisations, others include the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo- Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).

‘The CRPF and BSF have witnessed an alarming rate of increase (more than 70 per cent) in the exodus in 2011 over 2010,’ the document, in which data has been collated till September 2011, revealed.

It added that the frequency of resignations was also abnormally high in the CISF, which protects airports and industries. This force saw 37 jawans out of 10,000 quitting in 2010 and 31 leaving by September 2011, according to the MHA document.

The trend was maintained despite the CISF’s plum citybased postings being the most sought after by personnel.

‘Paramilitary forces have become a favourite punching bag for politicians, the media and human rights activists. The morale of the personnel is not particularly high and there is a feeling that the government is not fair to them even as they are expected to lay down their lives to defend the country,’ Prakash Singh, a former BSF director general told Mail Today.

Dr S.A. Asghar, former IG (medical), BSF, delved into the psychological aspect of the problem. He said personnel in the field were often stressed because they had to work ‘against the normal pattern of life’. They always face threats from different quarters, be it from militants or from enemy forces on the border, he added.

Officers of the forces, too, are pressing the eject button. In fact, in the case of the CRPF, they prefer to deposit anywhere between Rs 2.5 and Rs 3 lakh to leave before the mandatory period as they find opportunities in the private sector.

An MHA official said the dissatisfaction level was so high that as many as 30 out of 190 CRPF officers of the 2005 batch had moved out, even though they had to shell out the training money spent on them by the force. Singh said the shrill condemnation of the CRPF for allegedly killing civilians in an encounter in Chhattisgarh in June-end was an indication of the problems they faced.

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