Paramilitary need to be equal as Armed forces

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We as a nation are quick to recognise the
sacrifices and tribulations faced by the
soldiers of the Indian Army, but often do
not pay as much attention to the condition
of paramilitary forces, whose role has
increased over the past three decades.
Paramilitary forces come under the direct
supervision of ministry of home affairs as
compared to the Army, Navy and Air Force,
which come under the defence ministry.
The Central Reserve Police Force, Border
Security Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border
Police, Central Industrial Security Force, the
National Security Guard, Assam Rifles and
the Sashastra Seema Bal are among the
main paramilitary forces deployed to
combat insurgency and border intrusion,
check communal riots and guard industrial
installations. Apart from these, there is the
Railway Protection Force that reports to
the railway ministry.
Paramilitary forces stay on vigil 24/7 along
the Indian borders and battle adverse
conditions such as biting cold weather of
the Northeast and the scorching heat of the
Thar Desert. Though these forces were
raised for maintaining internal security,
their roles have diversified. They are now
deployed to ensure free and fair elections,
fight terrorists and Maoists, protect VIPs
and assist civil administration in the event
of a natural calamity.

There is an inherent lack of stability in
paramilitary jobs. As the troops move from
location to location, they get very little
time to spend with their loved ones.
Their work and ethos are similar to the
army’s but their pension and retirement
benefits are comparable with central
government’s civil employees. They miss
out on the benefits that defence personnel
get.

It is estimated that annually, 225 members
of the paramilitary forces lay down their
lives in the line of duty across India and
some of the major incidents claiming their
lives have taken place in the Maoist-
affected areas.

Over the years, the defence forces have
evolved a mechanism that takes care of the
families of martyrs. This is not so for the
paramilitary forces. Though many welfare
schemes have been initiated to rectify this,
more is needed to be done.

It is surprising that most Indians are
unaware about the difference between the
paramilitary forces and the Army. Many of
us fail to appreciate the contribution of
these unsung heroes. In such difficult
times, we need to boost the morale of our
heroes by appreciating their efforts and
being sensitive to their needs and working
conditions.

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