ANF cops 'fight' at own cost

At a juncture of time when naxalism was gripping the region, the Government turned to the Anti-Naxal Force (ANF) to clear the menace and offered better pay and perks to boost their morale. Now that the naxal activities have reduced considerably and visibly, the Government has left the ANF personnel in dire straits and is busy luring the naxals to accept the surrender policy.

Amidst rigorous peddling for a decent living, what is disheartening is the fact that these personnel have to pay for their food during combing operation and even medical care, from their own pocket as the Government does not bear the cost.

An ANF constable with 10 to 12 years of service earns a basic salary of Rs 7,000, summing up to a gross pay of Rs 12,000 per month. Another Rs 3,000 is added as ANF benefit to the gross salary making it a grand total of Rs 15,000, which is comparatively higher than the civil cops.

“There are two types of combing operations. First, the mass combing, which the department organises itself and Government pays for the food. This operation was conducted only four times over the last one and a half year. The other kind of operation is where the ANF campers go into the woods following the information. This happens as frequently as five to six times a month. We are supposed to take the food ourselves for this operation,” says a Head Constable who has worked for over seven years in the ANF.

He says that the food carried for such operations is usually light but high energy food like dry fruits etc, which are expensive.

Though they get Rs 1,000 as food allowance, they end up spending double the amount every month.

Apart from this, these cops have to take care of their medical expenses themselves. “Falling sick on duty can be harsh on our pocket. We have to spend money for medicines ourselves. Yes, we can claim benefits under Arogya Bhagya, but that is too much of a hassel. We should travel back to our district to claim the amount,” says a personnel.

When the salary of State government employees were upgraded in 2006, the ANF personnel too got their share. Their basic was hiked, but the Government is claiming back the amount over the last few months by deducting Rs 1,200 from their salary, citing that there is no sanction for this hike.

The personnel have not opted to make noise about it.

They say that the wing is headed by DIG rank official who is stationed in Bangalore despite his Head Office being situated in Karkala.

It was better pay scale, which had lured these men to work for ANF.

Unfortunately, it is the question of survival which is making them repent over their decision.

“Working in ANF is considered as a punishment and now we know it is true. Do we not deserve a dignified life for confronting unpredictable and precarious target,” questions a personnel on behalf of his 600 odd counterparts who too are finding it difficult to make both ends meet despite working for a crucial wing of national security.

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