Pulwama attack revisited: Lest we forget our brave-hearts 

By D Prakash

Life can never be the same for the Basumatary family of Tamulpur village of Baksa District of Assam after February 14, 2019. Neither for the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).  When the world was observing the day as Valentine’s Day, Head Constable Maneshwar Basumatary of 98 BN CRPF was martyred along with forty three of his colleagues in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir. The country lost forty four men in uniform in this dastardly attack at Lethpora (near Awantipora ) in the Pulwama District of Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistan-based militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack. The events which followed this attack have found a permanent place in the internal security history of the country. Air strikes were conducted by the Indian Air Force. The country rose in unison in condemning the attack.

In August 2019, Article 370 was abrogated and the State of Jammu & Kashmir became two union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.

The Central Reserve Police Force ( CRPF ), the premier internal security agency of the country has lost its personnel in such attacks in the past too. CRPF bore the brunt of the first Chinese attack on India at Hot Springs (Ladakh) in October 1959. A small CRPF patrol party was ambushed by the Chinese in which ten CRPF men made their supreme sacrifice for the country. Their martyrdom on October 21 is remembered throughout the country as Police Commemoration Day every year. During the Chinese aggression of 1962, eight CRPF personnel were killed in action. In 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars, the Force fought shoulder to shoulder with the Indian Army. Presently, CRPF is deployed mainly in the three theatres of J&K, NE and Left Wing Extremism (LWE) areas where it is responsible for counter insurgency operations and Internal Security duties along with other security agencies.

Many tactical changes have been introduced in the security grid after this incident. Intelligence setup has been revamped.  The Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) of convoy movement has also been tightened. Security audit of all the camps have been conducted and loopholes have been plugged.

The tremendous amount of good will created towards uniformed personnel and the surge of the society at large in coming out and helping the next of kin (NOK) of the victims is praiseworthy. Perhaps it has happened for the first time after the Kargil War.  Protests, bandhs and candle light marches were held across the country and abroad. Various groups, NGOs, famous personalities and even individuals came out in open in condemning the incident and to help the families. The Central and State governments relaxed their rules and regulations regarding ex-gratia payments and other benefits. Special attention was given to timely payment of all dues to the forces and the NOK of the martyred jawans. Special mention must be made of the State Government of Assam which effected a cabinet amendment in the existing rule to pay ex-gratia of twenty lakh rupees to a resident of Assam killed anywhere in the country. The Chief Minister of Assam offered a government job to the daughter of Shaheed Maneshwar Basumatary, the only Pulwama victim from the Northeast. The CRPF tried to come to terms with this incident immediately. As a battle hardened force, the personnel sprang up again with great resilience to thwart any similar future attempts.

Liberalized Pension Award (LPA) has been sanctioned in all the cases of the Pulwama attack. This would take care of most of the financial needs of the families. All the payments to the NOK were monitored by the Welfare Directorate of CRPF HQ at Delhi. Financial hand holding exercises have been conducted to help the families to invest the money in a fruitful manner. Individuals and groups showed their largeness of hearts by contributing to ‘Bharath ke Veer’ fund which is directly managed by Ministry of Home Affairs. Financial assistance is provided from this Fund to the NOK of all such incidents. A mobile based app “ Veer Parivar “ for the NOK of all the victims was launched by the President of India at Delhi on April 9, last year. The family members can maintain direct contact with the CRPF Welfare Directorate and other senior officers through this app. Grievances projected through this app are attended to with top most priority. Education of the children of the martyrs has been sponsored by many groups. Fee concessions have been offered by most of the educational institutions in the country.

            As we observe the first anniversary of the deadly Pulwama attack , we  offer homage to the departed brethren who laid down their lives at the highest altar of duty. The sacrifice of our brothers in uniform will not go in vain. We stand with the families of the martyrs at this hour of grief. As members of this great Force which has faced all such challenges since 1939 , we pledge to  protect the unity and integrity of our motherland with our motto “Service and Loyalty “

“CRPF SADA AJAY, BHARAT MATA KI JAI”

 

(The author is an IPS Officer of Uttar Pradesh Cadre, currently posted in the CRPF as IGP in the North Eastern Sector. The views expressed are personal)

 

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