Paramilitary and CAPFs of India

India pushes for ‘Radiation Detection Equipment’ at all international borders in a bid to boost national security
Giving a major fillip to India’s security ecosystem, the Union government has decided to install Radiation Detection Equipment (RDE) at all eight Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) on the nation’s borders with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal, to detect smuggling of radioactive materials.

India has about 8 Integrated Check Posts adjacent to neighboring countries from where our import and export work is done by vehicles. The names of those borders are Attari – Pakistan border; Petrapole, Dawki, Agartala and Sutarkani – Bangladesh Border; Moreh – Myanmar border, and Raxaul & Jogbani – Nepal Border.

Acting swiftly, the government has already issued a tender for installing RDE at all the eight ICPs on the borders. As per the Request for Proposal (RPE) document, the radiation equipment will be installed within three months of an order being placed. This could mean an early 2022 deadline.

“It is vital to equip border crossings, Integrated Check Posts, and Land Ports, since these may be used as smuggling routes for materials needed for a nuclear device or radiological dispersal device,” the RPE document states.

With the procurement of RDE, India intends to deter and detect illicit trafficking of radioactive materials across international borders. Notably, the idea is to facilitate safe and secure movement of trade across all land ports of India as normal X-ray equipment is infective against the detection of radioactive material.

The development has come in the backdrop of developing situations in Afghanistan & Pakistan and follows a nearly two-year-long exercise by the Indian government to seek inputs on system requirements for such RDE globally.

Why RDE is a gamechanger in the security landscape of India

The Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) at the borders regulate the entry and exit of passengers and goods. To regulate the security of cargo movement across ICPs, Security agencies at the ICPs use Radiation Detection Equipment (RDE), which monitors trucks and their cargo. These machines are so large in size that trucks and trailers can easily pass through it. Further, RDE is capable of raising separate gamma and neutron radiation alarms and generating video frames of target objects.

The RDE also easily distinguishes between “special nuclear material and naturally occurring radiation in fertilizer or ceramics as well as high-energy gamma isotopes which are an attribute of recycled uranium.

Simply put, as soon as the RDE starts, nothing illegal can come inside India from the border of any neighboring country adjacent to India. Meaning that, from a needle to a bomb without permission can not come inside the country.

To date, the first RDI has been successfully deployed along the Indo-Pak Attari border, and the remaining seven integrated check posts are going to be installed soon.
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Since there's no dedicated thread on state police forces , posting this here as it deals with both state & central police forces in a holistic manner. Definitely worth a watch for the deep analysis & implications on our polity.

Sindoor, bindi, AK-47—an intimate look at CRPF women’s lives in J&K, Manipur, Chhattisgarh​

Donning chutki-bhar sindoor, a tiny red bindi, and strapping a 3-kg AK-47 on her right shoulder, Shashi ties her long, black damp hair with two rubber bands. With a final look in the mirror, she heads out to perform a drill in Srinagar.

This has been Shashi’s routine for nearly a decade.

Shashi, 29, has been juggling between the roles of a commando and a traditional married woman effortlessly all this while. Shashi wears khaki shirts and trousers on duty, and when back at home in Agra with her family, she wears colourful, glittery sarees and covers her face with the hem, assuming the roles of a wife, daughter-in-law, and mother.

“I believe in Indian culture, and when at home, I love wearing the ghoonghat,” says Shashi, who lives with her in-laws.

Illustration: Prajna Ghosh | ThePrint

Shashi is one among the thousands of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) women personnel who wear these multitudes with pride. They defend India’s troubled terrains with the same gusto with which they guard their children at home. They’re clear about what they want — parity not pity.

Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

In the barracks of Detachment unit 135 in Srinagar, the day starts as early as 4 am. In the dark and freezing cold outside, women personnel get ready with brisk efficiency. They queue up to take a bath; some wait for the water to get warm. Others carry their breakfast on steel plates to eat in their rooms before getting ready for a 12-hour-long day at work. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the roti maker, which is switched on an hour before the waking call, pushes out rotis that are served for breakfast and packed for lunch. Today, lunch is dal, rice, roti and tori sabzi. Everything gets packed into leakproof steel containers.

“Sabzis with curries are easier to eat and digest, especially when we have longer hours of duty. All women prefer that over dry food,” the cook says.

After breakfast, the women line up outside the kote where the weapons are housed. They pick up their rifles, tie them around their shoulders, and march to the ground.

“Saavdhaan; Vishraam…” orders the woman commander. By 8 am, the soldiers fall in line before the Deputy Commandant arrives for the morning briefing.

“Sabhi jawan duty jaane ke liye tayyar hai? (Are all the soldiers ready for duty?)” sub-inspector Basanti asks. “Yes, ma’am!” the women jawans answer in unison. “Be polite and calm with visitors at checkpoints,” she reminds them before briefing Deputy Commandant Yamini.


Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

Yamini makes sure everyone has eaten well before dismissing them. They queue up again to board big blue bulletproof trucks that will take them to their posts at vital installations in Srinagar city.

Women of this battalion are stationed at the central telecom office, Shankar Acharya temple and radio station.

At the temple, Meena, who is from Uttar Pradesh, stands outside the frisking booth. It’s tourist season in Kashmir, and she is on crowd control duty today. A man takes out his GoPro camera and starts recording, to which Meena objects. Unwilling to give up, he starts recording again. But Meena doesn’t relent. One look at her fierce eyes, and he and other tourists toe the line.

From body language to posture and eye contact, Meena uses every bit of information she learned during her year-long training.

In the Northeast

Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

As the female ustaad or trainer blows the whistle of command at the CRPF camp, the women jawans start marching. Not a single foot is out of sync. At the firing range, the bugle is sounded and they fall in line within seconds. They wrap a black patka (black mask) around their heads, load their magazines, take position, and aim.

Basumati, a young personnel from Assam, handles her INSAS rifle with practised ease. She calls it her “best friend”.

“What is there to be scared about? This controls everything and you control this,” she says, raising her index finger and thumb. They fire precise shots at the cardboard figures placed 100 metres away.

Basumati and Nove —both in their 20s—are ‘buddies’ in Battle Obstacles Assault Course or BOAC. On the ustaad’s command, they run towards the six-foot wall that they have to leap. Their faces stoic, the two women jump in unison and land on the ground at the same time with the same force, and then fluidly move to the next obstacle to be crossed.

Nove’s energy never flags, whether she is scaling a wall or springing from a rock to rock despite a 3-kg rifle slung across her shoulders. When she shoots, she does not miss.

Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

Each rifle is attached to a magazine that holds 20 to 30 bullets. Nove doesn’t flinch when she fires – despite a strong recoil and loud noise. The “bubbly one” among her peers, she hides a life of hardship under her cheerful exterior.

Nove, who is from Mizoram, took her CRPF physical examination when she was still breastfeeding her daughter. Her sister, without telling her, had applied to the CRPF on her behalf. “My husband did not approve of my job. But I went for the training exam,” says Nove. And she remembers that phase vividly, recalling the details of her experience. “My breasts were hard and heavy as they were filled with milk, and during my physical exam, milk started oozing out. I wrapped a gamcha (towel) around my breasts and continued with the exam,” she says.


Infographic- Soham Sen | ThePrint

Checking, frisking, and riot control are integral parts of the CRPF’s fixed duties. It’s the men who are preferred for more advanced duties under the Valley QAT (Quick Action Team). But this, too, is slowly changing. Since 2021, women have been brought under its umbrella. Today, there are 18 women and 108 men in the Valley QAT.

With their faces covered with patkas, eyes encased in protective gear, and torsos shielded with bulletproof jackets, the women in the QAT trudge through thick layers of snow and patrol the Dal Lake in boats. Once out for combat duty, there’s little distinction between the men and the women.



Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

The team is trained in cordon and search operations, house intervention (when they have to forcefully enter a residence), covert operations, neutralising militants, and detaining overground workers (OGWs).

Valley QAT commando Gauri (name changed), while on a patrolling demonstration on Dal Lake, explains how her two postings in the CRPF have been completely different. Her first posting in Srinagar was in 2018 with the Golf Company (M) G88 where she was on frisking duty at the airport. Her second appointment was in 2021 in Valley QAT.

“Whenever we stepped out of our camps, heavy stone pelting used to follow. Even while boarding CRPF buses, we used to wear helmets for extra precaution and safety. We used to avoid going out of our camps. It’s better now,” she says.

It’s not a smooth ride. But Gauri and her teammates stand steady in the backdrop of the Himalyas. No one leaves their position unless commanded so by superior officers.


Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

Team commando Swati (name changed) is also part of the elite QAT and leads the women in her unit. HIT or house intervention training has kept her fit, but her teammates struggle in the knee-deep snow during the drill. Swati helps them load their rifles and corrects their stand. “Backs straight, eyes open,” she says.

She signals her team to rush to an adjacent bridge as it has started snowing. These women have patrolled these areas of Sonmarg during Amarnath Yatra in the past. They plan to do it this year as well.

The snow doesn’t let up, and they halt for a hot cup of chai. A few metres away, six CRPF women personnel get out of a bulletproof vehicle and stand guard around the car — eclipsing its windows and doors with their bodies.


Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

What looked like another drill was actually a way to provide privacy to a seventh member who had to change her sanitary napkin. She got her period during the demonstration. “Periods?” a CRPF woman soldier looks at the authors in confusion. “It has never posed a problem. We are trained in such a way,” she says. “We cover the vehicle so that the officers also get to know that one of us is attending to a personal matter such as wearing a sanitary napkin,” says another soldier.

The training has eliminated any embarrassment about discussing menstruation or any bodily function for that matter.

“Tomboy,” Renu chimes in. “These cargo pants accommodate more than just CRPF equipment. We can keep our equipment as well.” All the women burst out laughing.

In the forests of Chhattisgarh

While in Kashmir, it’s usual for women to use vehicles to change sanitary napkins, in Chhattisgarh, it’s a luxury due to the dense forest coverage in the state, through which soldiers make their way to reach posts.

Lata (name changed), a sub-inspector in the Bastariya Battalion in Chhattisgarh, knows it well. She was posted in Srinagar in 2001 and was on duty at Srinagar Airport when it was attacked by militants. “Two men, on our way to the hospital, died on my lap and I could not do anything,” Lata recalls. “The girl I was carrying in my arms had two bullet injuries.” The woman could not be saved. And Lata is in a Naxal-sensitive area in Chhattisgarh where local residents are rife with suspicion and distrust.


Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

In the company camp of the Bastariya Battalion 241 in Chhattisgarh, 45 male and female personnel have been assigned to clear the road axis for vehicles leading to Sukma. Led by assistant commandant Savitri (name changed), they are divided into three teams—one to clear the main road and the other two to monitor the forest route. Two teams are led by women.

At 4 am, they queue up at the camp with rifles, improvised explosive device (IED) detectors, and water bottles. “All teams ready? Nishi (commander), aap jungle ke raasto se nikalo (Nishi, you take the jungle route),” orders Savitri.


Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

Battalion 241 is tasked with curbing Naxalite activities in the state and has both men and women soldiers. It was christened "Bastariya" because it comprises officers from the Bastar district. They come from Dantewada, Bijapur, Sukma, and Narayanpur — some of the most Maoist-affected areas in the district. Currently, there are a total of 205 tribal women in this battalion.

Unlike Kashmir, there are no bulletproof buses for teams in Chhattisgarh. The terrain is not suited for large vehicles, and the soldiers have to walk nearly 15 km through dense forests to reach their posts.

This is not a demonstration, but the day’s assignment in a Naxalite area. It’s a ‘road opening party’ — an operation that involves securing the route. “We are managing the security of the area as an important convoy is going to pass from here,” says Savitri.

Nobody talks. The first man in the queue carrying the IED detector checks the roadsides, under the bridges, and near the trees. A woman commando, leading the team, carries a hook that is tied to a stick. The hook comes in handy to uncover an IED from a distance.

Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

The first road opening party team, led by Nishi, walks along the edges of dried paddy fields. They reach the residential area where a woman is busy with household chores. The presence of the team raises no alarm among villagers. The CRPF is an accepted part of the landscape. Villagers don’t spare them a second glance and carry on — opening shops, getting their children ready for school, and fetching water from tubewells.

In the dry, scorching heat, the team walks briskly yet carefully. As the forest gets denser, a commando signals Nishi with a strange mellow sound. A conversation takes place purely through eye contact, and, finally, Nishi explains in a low voice: “Few commandos are left behind. They are coming.” Continuing to walk, she says it is too unsafe to stop anywhere in the forest.

They reach an area with signboards everywhere saying Border Limits. The party is now entering the ghats of the Sukma district.

Many women in the battalion say they did not tell anyone, not even their families, when they applied to the CRPF. Fear fuels this desperation for silence and secrecy. The women are afraid that the Naxalites in their villages will target their families if they learn they’ve joined the CRPF.


Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

Constable Nami, 27, is a tribal woman who got inducted into the Bastariya Battalion 241 three years ago. Her husband is also in the CRPF, they live outside the camp. They leave their toddler with the landlord when they go on duty. While her husband is a cook in the male residential quarters, Nami takes care of the chores in the women’s barracks.

She grew up in the vicinity of Naxals. She was a teenager when she first ran into them. When she told them she was a student, they let her go. Nami says she was lucky. “Naxals do not do anything to students,” she adds. But they go out of their way to convince tribals to join their cause, and host dance and singing performances, she mentions.
Nami no longer visits her parents regularly.
“Ma, Baba come to meet me once in a while. They tell the villagers that they are going to the market,” she says, her eyes wet with unshed tears. When Nami has to meet her parents, she does so in another tehsil, far from both their homes.
“I have not been home; it is not safe for me and my parents. I got married. I had a child. No one from my family could be a part of any of these occasions. This job has given me employment. I can help my parents, my brother, but this longing sometimes becomes unbearable,” she adds.

Duties, R&R, celebrations

Back in Srinagar, Assistant Commandant Vandana Tomar with 35 BN reaches the airport in a bulletproof vehicle. She leads the all-male component that guards the periphery of Srinagar airport.

On her orders, the men do a sweep of the bunkers, checkpoints, and ticket-checking centres. It’s going to be a busy day as a VIP is expected to arrive at the airport.

Tomar’s walkie-talkie beeps and she receives updates about the VIP’s timeline. Throughout the day, she makes her way from her office to the barracks and then to the airport. After nearly 12 hours, it’s time for a shift change.

She is finally free to catch up with fellow officers Usha Kiran and Yamini for tea. They meet at the G88 camp near the Srinagar airport.

The three women have been commanding officers of major battalions in J&K. They rarely get time to catch up.

A little before 5 pm, Tomar gets up in a hurry, leaving her tea unfinished. Her son will be back from school, and she needs to be at home.

Preparations for dinner have already started in the barracks of the all-women’s battalion 135 (M) bn, a 25-minute drive from the G88 barracks.

Basanti Varma and Anju Kumari, the senior-most personnel at the barracks, oversee the preparations.

They were among the few women who were recruited in the first batch of 1986, which was airlifted to Jaffna in Sri Lanka to assist the Indian Peace Keeping Forces. Both women are in their 50s now.

Over the last 37 years, they’ve seen the CRPF evolve and grow — more women, better weapons, training, and infrastructure. Customised bulletproof jackets were commissioned for women, keeping in mind their anatomical build. Earlier, the jackets used to weigh 18 kg, but now, they weigh only 5 kg, say the women personnel. It’s a huge relief for soldiers working in extreme weather conditions.

Inspector Babli, who is currently handling communications at G88, is set to retire from the CRPF in December this year. Her family has settled in Delhi, and she is looking forward to relaxing after nearly four decades of service.

After dinner, there’s absolute silence in the barracks of BN135. The women retreat to their rooms to get some sleep before they repeat the drill the next day.

For the most part, the women get a break on Sundays. That’s when the mood lightens, soldiers apply henna on their hair, pluck their eyebrows—it’s a day for some much-needed R&R.

Sub-inspector Maya Devi listens to Kitni Hasrat Hai Humein from the Akshay Kumar-starrer Sainik on her compact speakers as she gets ready for bed. Constable Vibhuti Desai prepares for an exam on her smartphone. Others watch Instagram reels, connect with friends on Facebook, or catch up on their favourite TV shows. Asha is cocooned in a thick blanket watching the sixth episode of Naagin on her phone. Her friend Geetu’s favourite is Ghum Hai Kisikey Pyaar Meiin, a love story about a police officer.



Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

Festivals offer the perfect opportunity for the CRPF women soldiers to briefly let their guard down. In the camp at Manipur, the grounds are empty on Ram Navami. But on the first floor in the barrack, a celebration is going on — “Jai Mata Di” slogans can be heard and people are clapping and beating drums. The Christian women personnel join in too. They don’t know the lyrics, but it doesn’t stop them from being a part of the festivities.

Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

When duty calls, the women leave their rituals, TV soaps, and hobbies behind. Assistant Commandant Neera Upadhyay oversees the security of the New Secretariat in Srinagar where she commands 126 CRPF male personnel.

As she walks into the barrack, the guard at the entrance salutes her. She moves from one section to another, checking registration files and the rations. It is inspection day at the barracks; all beds are tied up and covered with clean white bed sheets. As she inspects the facility, the men peep from the windows. Neera has been commanding the component for nearly three years. The novelty of ordering men around has yet to fade.

"Kick aati hai, jab hum command dete hain (It feels good to command),” she says with a grin.

#AssamRifles Remains Significant, With Expanded Role On #China Border, Besides Traditional Duties​

Dive into the rich history and unwavering commitment of the Assam Rifles, India's only and oldest paramilitary force, as we journey through its 190 years of existence. From its humble beginnings as a ragtag militia to its pivotal role in safeguarding India's borders and maintaining peace in the Northeast, this audio-visual feature offers a comprehensive insight into the unique ethos and challenges faced by the Assam Rifles. Join us as we explore their specialized training, involvement in pivotal moments of history, and their ongoing evolution as defenders of borders and agents of change. With important interviews and captivating visuals, witness the resilience and valor that have defined the Assam Rifles for nearly two centuries, inspiring generations with their ideals of duty and honour.

On #AssamRifles 189th #RaisingDay: East Of The #Northeast - #Replay | #livestream

The Assam Rifles marks its 189th Raising Day on 24 March. On the occasion we replug our series ‘East of the Northeast’ aired first in May 2023. In our ground report, StratNews Global travels along the Burma border in eastern Arunachal Pradesh from Pangsau Pass to Vijaynagar. Firstly, in this episode, we fly on board the lifeline provided by the Chinooks of the Indian Air Force’s Mighty Talons 124 Helicopter Unit to one of the eastern most inhabited areas and Advanced Landing Grounds of the country. En route and on location, Lt Gen P.C. Nair, Director General, Assam Rifles, Brig Swarn Singh, DIG, 25 Sector and Col Mohit Verma, Commandant, 19 Assam Rifles explain the strategic significance of how India discovered, secured and settled the critical Vijaynagar bowl.Along The Burma Border In Arunachal Pradesh: Pangsau Pass To VijaynagarOur team of Amitabh P. Revi and Rohit Pandita travels to Dibrugarh, Lekhapani, Jairampur, Pangsau Pass, Jorhat, Chabua and Vijaynagar. We connect the dots of history to explain the critical importance of these little-known border areas. We also document the path-breaking Ledo or Stilwell road, the Pangsau Pass. And how NSCN and ULFA insurgents attacked the post there in the run-up to Independence Day in 2022. We also re-visit the Vijaynagar Bowl and the history of how two Assam Rifles expeditions, the second led by Brig (later) Major General) A.S.Guraya changed how history and geography are now, and how they fit into India’s ‘Act East’ policy.“Insurgency Levels Down, Drug Smuggling Up; ₹ 810 Crore Of Trans-border Contraband Seized in 2023”In our series, ‘Sentinels of the North East’, Lt Gen (Dr) P.C. Nair, Director General, Assam Rifles speaks exclusively to StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi in Jorhat. The DG discusses the role, capacities, capabilities, and challenges of India’s oldest paramilitary force. He explains the Assam Rifles’ roles: along the 1,643 km long India-Myanmar border, and in counter-insurgency.Lt General Nair talks about the Assam Rifles response during the Manipur violence, the huge drug seizures from across the border, who is behind the upward trend in contraband smuggling, and illegal migration. Additionally, he also speaks about the general downward trend of insurgency, the role of external forces, the future role of the force he leads, and the situation across the Burma border.
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