Before Pulwama attack, CRPF officer wrote to HQ about holes in anti-militancy training : Report

New Delhi/ April,1:  A series of letters sent between January and November 2018 by a senior officer to the CRPF headquarters in New Delhi highlighting the poor condition of its counter-militancy training apparatus has gone unnoticed and last of these letters was sent by CRPF IG Rajnish Rai on November 22, 2018, less than two months before the Pulama attack on February 14 this year when 40 CRPF killed in an IED blast in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district, said a media report that appeared in ” Indian Express” on Monday this week.

Saying that a key training centre for the CRPF fighting insurgency and militancy in the country has no permanent structure, no firing range, no boundary wall, the report said  in the last four years, over 150 training and administrative staff have been posted there “to merely fill the vacancies”,adding that it does “not offer a single CIAT (Counter Insurgency and Anti Terrorism) related course”.

Rai was in charge of the CRPF’s 175-acre CIAT school in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor, one of the three such schools allotted to the force by the Union Home Ministry, which envisaged 21 such facilities in 2007 for various forces.

A 1992-batch IPS officer of the Gujarat cadre, Rai was serving as CRPF IG (Northeast Sector) till June 2017, when he was asked to take charge of the CIAT school in Chittoor. The transfer came three months after he had called for a probe into what he alleged was a fake encounter — by a joint team of Army, CRPF, SSB and police — in Assam’s Chirang on March 30.Last December, Rai was suspended by the Home Ministry for “unauthorised handing over of charge” after he quit the service citing an application for voluntary retirement in August, which had been rejected. In January, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) stayed the Centre’s action; Rai has since moved the Gujarat High Court.

In his letters, Rai pointed out that the CRPF schools only provide theatre-specific, short-term pre-induction (PI) training to personnel headed for Kashmir, the Northeast or LWE areas.

Rai was not available for comment. But a senior CRPF officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that “some kind of training” could have been started in Chittoor by Rai despite the drawbacks.

“It is true that the Chittoor school has no infrastructure. There is no proper infrastructure at the Silchar and Shivpuri schools, either. Bureaucracy has its own pace. But as officers we have to learn to use the resources available to us in the best possible way. Some kind of training could have been started at Chittoor. After all, PI training is also a form of counter-terror training,” the officer said.

In his letter on February 5, 2018, Rai wrote: “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: “militancy 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.” The Chittoor school, spread over 175 acres, was set up in 2014 — the other two CRPF schools are in Assam’s Silchar and Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri.

When contacted the CRPF did not respond specifically to the contents of Rai’s report and letters, claims Indian Express in its report. However, it said that through “multiple centres across the country”, it provides training to soldiers and officers in “over 20 different courses ranging from basic training for recruits to jungle warfare and IED training to those being deployed in LWE area, Kashmir and the Northeast”.

It said training of 15,256 personnel is envisaged in 2019 at its four Central Training Colleges while 6,903 personnel would be trained at CIAT schools. It also said that a CIAT course for a Quick Action Team (QAT) has been started in Chittoor, and 1,274 personnel were being trained.

“These schools impart theatre-specific specialised training on CIAT operations. NE-theatre specific training is imparted at CIAT Silchar. LWE theatre specific training is imparted as CIAT Shivpuri,” the CRPF said.

In his letters, Rai 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/militants. While PI training provides perspectives on challenges facing an operational theatre, strategic insights on how to deal with insurgents/militants 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.

In 2016, when Rai was posted in the Northeast, he had pointed out that no CIAT training was being conducted at the Silchar school since September 2015. Quoting sources the report says that the CRPF has recently been holding QAT training there while a similar course focused on LWE areas was started in Shivpuri this year.

Incidentally, Rai was the supervising officer with Gujarat’s CID-Crime probing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case – in 2007, he had arrested three top officers, D G Vanzara, M N Dinesh, Rajkumar Pandiyan.

Rai’s CIAT letters red-flagged a number of issues at the Chittoor school:

* It was operating out of 44 pre-fabricated (PF) huts with no permanent structure. There are plans to construct 26 more PF 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 lack of access to a jungle, and no indoor classrooms for elaborate training on jungle survival, or sand-model tutorials.

* Only one of the five sanctioned borewells has been set up, which is not adequate for the three storage tanks of 8 lakh litres each.

 

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Coronavirus: ‘105 people with China travel history kept under home quarantine’ Srinagar: One hundred five people with China travel history are being kept under surveillance in Jammu and Kashmir. However, no one has tested positive for Coronavirus so far. The Nodal Officer for Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory to deal with the Coronavirus, Dr Shafqat Khan told KNS over phone that one hundred five people in Jammu and Kashmir with travel history from China have been asked to remain in home quarantine as a precautionary measure. “So far there is no case of coronavirus in JK. The suspected cases have tested negative and have been advised home quarantine,” The official maintained that all suspected people in Jammu and Kashmir are under observation and are being monitored. ‘They have been asked to remain in isolation and take necessary precautions. However, no one has been hospitalized”, he maintained. He said that preemptive measures are in place to deal with the threat posed by coronavirus in Jammu and Kashmir. Khan said that Government is not taking any chance on the issue of Coronavirus and all those arriving from China, Nepal and other countries are being regularly monitored. He appealed people not to panic.” As on date there is nobody in JK UT to have detected for the coronavirus. Though two people earlier had some flue like symptoms, but both were detected negative for coronavirus,” said Shafqat. The Nodal Officer said that some samples of people who had flue like symptoms were also taken and sent for analyses, but no one has been detected positive for coronavirus. Government has established 33 bedded isolation ward at Government Medical College Jammu for Coronavirus cases and 22 bedded such facility at GMC, Srinagar, SKIMS Soura and Maternity Hospital Sanatnagar in Kashmir valley. The sample taking facility has been kept at GMC Srinagar and GMC Jammu. Meanwhile sources told KNS that the government has asked all the Chief Medical Officers across the UT to maintain the SOPs strictly. They have been asked to transport such people from airport and home to test lifting facilities in designated ambulances. Sources said that Health Department of the UT is in continuous touch with National Center for Disease Control in New Delhi and National Institute of Virology Pune. Sources said that Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education Department, Atal Dulloo also advised the officers to be extra vigilant and follow the established protocol in handling all suspected cases. The death toll in China’s novel coronavirus has gone up to 2,236 with 118 more deaths reported, mostly from the hard-hit Hubei province, while the overall confirmed infection cases have climbed to 75,465, Chinese health officials said on Friday. The number of deaths is higher than the previous day when 114 people died of the disease, but the country reported the lowest number of new infection cases in nearly a month, fuelling hopes that Beijing’s epidemic control efforts were working. By the end of Thursday, a total of 2,236 people had died of the disease and 75,465 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection had been reported from 31 provincial-level regions and in China, the National Health Commission (NHC) said in its daily report on Friday.

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