RAIPUR: While a BSF jawan’s social media post on ‘ bad quality food+ ‘ goes viral, living conditions of para-military forces, mainly Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), fighting Maoists in the remote forested areas of tribal Bastar region in Chhattisgarh, are also far from good. Many times, they survive on “dal-chaaval and aloo” whenever there is a delay in regular supplies due to logistic constraints.
“The supply can never be regular due to poor road connectivity in the interiors while very often Maoists loot the vehicles carrying supplies whenever the rebels come to know that jawans’ ration is being transported,” a CRPF officer told TOI on condition of anonymity. He said Road Opening Party (ROP) plays a crucial role in the transportation of supplies, but had also been attacked many times in the past leading to the death of jawans.
“Amid this challenge, some of the CRPF camps in remotest areas get their ration and veggies through helicopters that occasionally fly to the camps. But it carries huge risk if the trips are frequent or in the case of bad weather. There’s no concrete solution or fixed management in transporting food and ration to the camps located in these areas of Bastar. Very often jawans survive only on ‘dal-chawal’ or potatoes for vegetable for days together. Thus the jawans are deprived of nutritious diet which is the fundamental need and they also remain demotivated due to the poor quality of food,” the uniformed officer claimed.
The CRPF officer, however, also supported BSF jawan’s contention about food quality in Forward Defended Locality (FDL) saying that it’s definitely a problem being faced by para-military forces deployed in remote and inaccessible areas.
“The normal procedure in CRPF is that each jawan in a company is provided Rs 3000 per month as ration money. This money is pooled and submitted to the mess commander and a party of five jawans procures supplies for serving desirable food as per the pre-fixed menu. At many places in Bastar, jawans are depended on suppliers and villagers.
CRPF’s DIG Sanjay Yadav, posted at Bastar’s divisional headquarters of Jagdalpur, told TOI that “CRPF provides one of the best foods to its jawans as compared to some other forces. However, there is a problem in inaccessible hostile terrain in many remote areas of Bastar where forces are dependent on suppliers and villagers”. Few CRPF personnel posted at a camp close to the main road in south Bastar said they get good quality food as per the menu fixed for seven days a week.
A CRPF commander, posted at a camp located in a remote location of Bastar, said jawans’ life is always at risk even when they visit the villages as they have to be cautious in drinking water in view of the threat of Maoist cadres or sympathisers poisoning drinking water sources.
Border Security Force (BSF) personnel, posted in Maoist-hit areas in Kanker district in Bastar region, said the food quality was not the real issue worrying them but other facilities such as pension at par with army personnel and other benefits which the para-military forces have been demanding for long.
CRPF men too are more worried about other issues, which they consider as the grave. “While a jawan has to serve three years in a conflict zone, as per the rule, he should be given peace posting at another place. But it is very rare and they are instead posted in Kashmir,” Jharkhand or other difficult places.
Moreover, their relationship with family gets sore due to infrequent communication in absence of mobile networks. Not getting leave for months together keeps them demotivated that often leads to jawans committing suicide. A jawan posted at conflict region needs to meet his family at least once in three-four months. “Fauj mai akela fauji nahi uska parivar bhi desh ke liye samarpit hota hai’,” quipped a CRPF personnel posted at a remote camp in Bastar.