CRPF officer's letters expose poor training facilities

A series of letters sent by a CRPF officer to the headquarters in New Delhi before the Pulwama terror attack on February 14 in which at least 40 CRPF men lost their lives, reveals the lack of infrastructure and training at one of the key training centre’s located in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor region, the Indian Express reported on Monday.

According to CRPF IG Rajnish Rai who sent these letters and penned a report on the matter, the 175-acre Counter Insurgency and Anti Terrorism (CIAT) school lacks a firing range, a boundary wall and any kind of permanent structure.

Rai also alleges that in the past four years, over 150 training and administrative staff have been posted there “to merely fill the vacancies” and it does “not offer a single CIAT related course”.

According to letters accessed by the Indian Express, Rai wrote on February 5, 2018: “Presently, CRPF has three CIAT Schools in the country; yet, contrary to what the name suggests, we do not offer a single CIAT related course in any of these locations. This is even more surprising since we know very well that CRPF is in the forefront of facing three internal security challenges: terrorism in Kashmir Valley, the insurgency in Northeast, and left-wing extremism (LWE) in Central India.”

On November 22, 2018, Rai wrote: “…even when no training was conducted… almost full strength of officers/men were posted at CIAT School, Chittoor since its inception, and salaries and allowances were paid to the CRPF personnel posted here.”(sic)

Rai also pointed to the difference between PI and CIAT training. “PI training introduces participants to the new operational theatres… whereas, CIAT training are essential for understanding the geographical and cultural terrain, operational tactics, and the psychological profiles of insurgents/terrorists. While PI training provides perspectives on challenges facing an operational theatre, strategic insights on how to deal with insurgents/terrorists in specific contexts can be acquired only through in-depth CIAT training,” he wrote. 

“Lack of truthful and transparent analysis of operations has meant the CRPF has little institutional ability to learn from its mistakes,” he wrote.

Issues red-flagged at the Chittoor school in Rai’s letters according to Indian Express:

  • It was operating out of 44 pre-fabricated (PF) huts with no permanent structure. There were plans to construct 26 more such huts.
  • Only 39 training staff have been sanctioned for around 800 personnel. Out of 15 sanctioned officers in supervisory roles, only four are “physically present”.
  • It has not conducted a training needs analysis and there is “no clear direction” for providing counter-terror training.
  • No boundary wall or fencing, Battle Obstacle Assault Course infrastructure, running track and IED lane for IED-related training.
  • No firing range. The 169 acres allotted for the range is stuck in a land dispute, and the state police range, 70 km away, is subject to availability. There is also the lack of access to a jungle, and no indoor classrooms for elaborate training on jungle survival, or sand-model tutorials.
  • Only one out of the five sanctioned borewells has been set up, which is not adequate to fill the three storage tanks of 8 lakh litres each.
  • The 25 KVA transformer is “grossly inadequate” — an audit had shown that the school needs a 100 KV transformer and two generator sets.

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