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Mains   > Security   >   Border area management   >   Security forces and Police


  • As many as 1,532 personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces, the Assam Rifles, and the National Security Guard have committed suicide since 2011, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs recently said in the Lok Sabha.
  • The minister said no such case caused due to harassment by the system has been reported. He also said a task force has been set up to identify relevant risk factors and relevant risk groups as well as suggest remedial measures for the prevention of suicides and fratricides in CAPFs and Assam Rifles.


  • Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) refers to uniform nomenclature of seven central armed police organisations under the authority of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Central Armed Police Forces were formerly referred to as Paramilitary Forces. In 2011, Ministry of Home Affairs designated the following 7 Police Forces as the “Central Armed Police Forces”. They are:
    • Assam Rifles (AR)
    • Border Security Force (BSF)
    • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)
    • Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
    • Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
    • National Security Guard (NSG)
    • Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)
  • Their role is to defend the national interest mainly against the internal threats.


1. Assam Rifles (AR):

  • The Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force of India. The unit can trace its lineage back to a paramilitary police force that was formed under the British in 1835 called Cachar Levy.
  • It is tasked with the maintenance of law and order in the North East along with the Indian Army and also guards the Indo-Myanmar border in the region.
  • Assam Rifles is the only paramilitary force with a dual control structure: while the administrative control lies with the MHA, its operational control is with the Indian Army, which is under the Ministry of Defence.

2. Border Security Force (BSF):

  • BSF is the first line of defence of Indian territories. It was raised in the wake of the 1965 War on 1 December 1965.
  • It is charged with guarding India's land border on western front during peacetime and preventing transnational crime. It has an air wing, marine wing, an artillery regiment, and commando units.
  • It is deployed on Indo-Pakistan and Indo-Bangladesh International Borders, Line of Control (LoC) along with Indian Army and in anti-Naxal Operations.
  • It also contributes dedicated services to the UN peacekeeping Mission.

3. Central Industrial Security Force (CISF):

  • The CISF provides security cover to industrial units, government infrastructure projects and facilities and establishments located all over India.
  • Industrial sectors like power plants, space installations, oil fields and refineries, major ports, steel plants and airports are protected by CISF.
  • CISF also provides consultancy services to private industries as well as other organisations within the Indian government.

4. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF):

  • The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is the largest of India's Central Armed Police Forces.
  • Its primary role lies in assisting the State/UTs in police operations to maintain law and order and counter insurgency. Besides that, the CRPF plays a major role in the security arrangements for India's general elections. CRPF contingents are also being deployed in UN missions.
  • It also has several specialised units:
    • The Rapid Action Force (RAF): It is a specialised battalion formed in October 1992, to deal with communal riots and related civil unrest.
    • Parliament Duty Group (PDG): It is an elite CRPF unit tasked to provide armed protection to Parliament House.
    • Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA): This elite fighting unit was added to the CRPF to counter the Naxalite movement in India.

5. Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP):

  • ITBP was raised in October 1962 in the wake of the Sino-Indian War of 1962. The ITBP was intended for deployment along India's border with China's Tibet Autonomous Region.
  • The ITBP is also trained in disaster management, and nuclear, biological and chemical disasters.

6. National Security Guard (NSG):

  • NSG is the federal Contingency deployment Force to conduct anti hijack operations, rescue operations and to provide tough support to the Central Para Military forces.

7. Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB):

  • In earlier setup, SSB performed the role of inculcating sense of security and spirit of resistance in border populace, promoting national awareness, organizing and preparing border population for resistance to the enemy.
  • Its present-day role consists of preventing cross-border crime and smuggling as well as other anti-national activities.


  • Counter terrorism and insurgency:
    • CAPFs are the first line of defence in addressing threats of terrorism and naxalism that arise within the country.
    • Eg: CoBRA forces is proficient in guerrilla tactics and jungle warfare, making them a crucial player in tackling Maoist threats.
  • Strengthen peace and security:
    • The paramilitary forces have played a vital role in almost all the critical matters of internal security and border security since 1947.
    • Eg: The RAF, the specialist anti-riots unit of the CRPF, was crucial in tackling the 2020 Delhi riots and rescuing a number of people who were trapped inside burning houses.
  • Support Armed Forces:
    • CAPFs provide personnel, logistics and intelligence support to the armed forces.
    • Eg: The BSF has played major role in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 and Operation Blue Star.
  • Provide specialised knowledge:
    • CAPF agencies are specialised in addressing the specific security concerns and develop capabilities accordingly.
    • Eg: CISF Fire Service Wing is the largest professional, well trained and equipped fire fighting Force in the country and provides fire prevention and fire protection to the highly sensitive units like Petro-Chemical Complexes.


  • Deployment of CAPFs:
    • There was heavy dependence of states on CAPFs, even for everyday law and order issues. This is likely to affect the anti-insurgency and border guarding operations, besides curtailing the training needs of these forces.
  • Recurring causalities:
    • Direct confrontations with militants and non-availability of technology to detect deeply planted mines is resulting in casualty of security forces, especially in LWE affected areas.
    • Eg: In April 2021, 21 security personnel were killed and 31 injured after attacks by Maoists near Jonaguda village in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.
  • Promotion of CAPFs:
    • Top positions in CAPFs are occupied by IPS officers on deputation. This has a demoralizing effect on the officers of the CAPFs, and impacts the effectiveness of the forces.
    • In addition, there was frustration in CAPFs due to stagnation in promotions and lack of cadre review. These results in highest attrition rates in the forces.
  • Disparity in pay:
    • Despite having similar objectives, working conditions and sometimes being under the functional control of Army, there is large disparity in the pay and perks received by the armed forces and CAPFs. This demoralizes the CAPF members.
  • Stress among CAPF personnel:
    • Due to discontentment with job, lack of promotional avenues, housing facilities, sanction of leave and basic medical facilities, a number of personnel among the CAPFs are suffering from mental health issue. This has led to suicide and fratricide.
  • Unregulated expansion:
    • Recent decades have seen a massive expansion in CAPFs. However, the resources, equipment and support structure for them is inadequate: be it spare parts for armoured vehicles, winter clothing or footwear.
  • Absence of a robust in-house grievance redressal mechanism:
    • A weak grievance redressal mechanism has resulted in some CAPF soldiers making accusations in social media and neglecting orders of the force.
    • Eg: In 2017, a BSF jawan posted along the Line of Control, posted videos on his Facebook account alleging that BSF are provided bad quality and insufficient food.
  • Delayed modernization of CAPFs:
    • The Modernization Plans aims at providing financial support to CAPFs for modernizing arms, clothing, and equipment. However, the procurement process under the Plan is cumbersome and time consuming. 

Modernisation Plan-IV for Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs):

  • The Government has approved the scheme in continuation of the scheme “Modernisation Plan-III for CAPFs.  It will run from 01.02.2022 to 31.03.2026.
  • Modernisation Plan-IV for CAPFs with a total financial outlay of Rs.1,523 crore is to be implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • It will equip the CAPFs with modern state-of-the-art weapons and equipment as per their operational requirement, keeping in view their deployment pattern in different theatres.  Besides, upgraded IT solutions will also be provided to CAPFs.
  • Implementation of the scheme would bolster the Government’s ability to address the challenges being faced on the International Border/LoC/LAC as well as in the different theatres, such as areas affected by Left Wing Extremism, Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and insurgency affected North Eastern States.

'Ayushman CAPF' scheme:

  • The purpose of the scheme is to provide cashless health services to the CAPF personnel and their dependents using the Ayushman Bharat PM-JAY IT platform.
  • It was initially applicable only for the state of Assam. Now, it is applicable at the pan-India level.
  • All CAPF officials and serving personnel and their dependents from seven forces will be covered under the scheme.
  • The scheme is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Health Authority.
  • A distinct feature of the scheme is that it will switch from the paper-based manual process of availing healthcare benefits to a paperless service at MHA’s IT platform.
  • Beneficiaries of the scheme can collect the Ayushman CAPF e-card from respective forces. This card will be activated at empanelled private hospitals using a copy of service ID and Aadhaar or any other government approved photo ID.
  • In case of self-paid medical treatment, beneficiaries will be able to get reimbursements in some cases.



  • Training of CAPFs:
    • There is an urgent need to update the curriculum and infrastructure in training institutes for CAPFs. Training should be a mix of conventional matters and latest technology like IT, cyber security, and cybercrime.
    • While purchasing state-of-the-art equipment, government should ensure that training needs are taken care of.
  • Technology infusion:
    • Government should enhance CAPF’s infrastructural capabilities in areas like AI, cyber security, drones etc. For this, research organizations like DRDO and private players should be encouraged. 
  • Bolster equipment capabilities:
    • Bottlenecks in procurement should be identified and corrected.  Ministry of Home Affairs and CAPFs should hold negotiations with ordnance factories and manufacturers in public or private sector to ensure uninterrupted supply of equipment and other infrastructure.
  • Refine organizational structure:
    • Top positions should be filled from the respective cadre of the CAPF and cadre review of all the CAPFs should be carried out within a defined timeline. 
  • Stress management efforts:
    • Workshops on stress management should regularly be undertaken, and yoga and meditation be made part of the daily exercise for CAPF personnel. 
    • Accommodation near the deployment of the respective force should be provided, to enable personnel to meet their family members. For this, Ministry of Home Affairs and CAPFs should hold regular consultations with state governments and fast track allocation of land for construction of houses for CAPF personnel.
  • Strengthen Intelligence gathering:
    • an effective intelligence gathering mechanism should be developed, with synchronization between agencies and no delays in sharing of information.  Further, agencies involved in intelligence gathering should be given autonomy in the recruitment of their personnel.
  • Strengthen state police forces:
    • States must develop their own systems, and augment their police forces by providing adequate training and equipment.  The central government should supplement the efforts of state governments by providing financial assistance and other help needed by states for capacity building of their forces.


The Committee on Estimates (Chairperson: Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi) submitted its report on ‘Central Armed Police Forces and Internal Security Challenges – Evaluation and Response Mechanism’ in 2018. Its findings and recommendations should be used a foundation to refine and strengthen the Central Armed Police Forces.


Q. Give an account of the various security forces under the Central Armed Police Forces. What are the challenges faced by these forces along India’s land borders?

Q. Analyse internal security threats and transborder crimes along Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan borders including Line of Control (LoC). Also discuss the role played by various security forces in this regard? (UPSC Mains GS 3, 2020)