Paramilitary scrounges for recruits

NEW DELHI: As if high attrition was not enough to dent the morale of forces fighting Naxalites, paramilitary forces are now facing a serious problem in recruitment — especially from Naxal-affected, tribal, northeast and border areas. Up to 90% of vacancies in these areas have remained unfilled. To tide over the problem, the government has now asked the forces not to carry forward troubled area or tribal quota vacancies but fill them the same year through recruitment rallies specifically targeting those areas.

The government has been pushing for recruitment from troubled areas, as it not only aids operations through local knowledge but also helps wean away recruits for extremists. Local recruits also help build credibility of forces among people in the troubled areas. For this, the government has fixed quotas for these areas which can be filled only by local people. However, the objective has largely remained unfulfilled, specially in the case of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the largest force engaged in anti-Naxal operations.

Of the 2,075 such vacancies in CRPF from states such as Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura, only 254 have been filled in 2011-2012. The situation is worst in AP with 1,080 of 1,180 vacancies from Naxal-affected areas going unfilled. Jharkhand follows closely with only 86 of 535 vacancies filled while Chhattisgarh does a tad better with 49 of 174 vacancies filled. Most northeast states have failed to reach double figures. The situation is no better for the BSF where such vacancies range between 25-50%. “In areas such as Andhra Pradesh, we never get more than 50% vacancies filled.

The problem is not just of people failing the test but even applying. The response is low. On the other hand, in states such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, there is a problem of plenty. Exam cut-offs go up to 80% in these areas,” a BSF official involved with recruitments said. Sources said the government is aware of the problem and wants to solve it. For this, the government has introduced a third language (any local language) in the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) exams, through which paramilitary selects candidates, apart from Hindi and English and relaxed physical and medical norms. “Even this has not helped much and so the government wants to target these areas through special recruitment rallies and stop the carry-forward of vacancies,” the BSF official said.

There are others, however, who believe that the recruitment system itself needs to change. A senior CRPF officer said, “As long as selection is done through SSC, tribals and people from troubled areas will find it difficult to get into the force. The problem is of educational facilities in these areas. Where there is no road, no school, how do you find educated candidates? The problem is more social than related to the forces.”

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