The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) are grappling with a shortage of around 66,000 personnel, which is leading to inadequate deployment in critical installations and border areas.

Seven organisations, including the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Assam Rifles (AR) and National Security Guards (NSG) comprise the CAPFs. The personnel belonging to these organisations are deployed by the Ministry of Home Affairs for augmenting and safeguarding the country’s internal security.

The maximum number of vacancies is with the CRPF, where 20,000 posts remain to be filled, including 278 posts for gazetted officers. The CRPF, which is the largest CAPF, has a sanctioned strength of 29 lakh personnel including 4,869 gazetted officers. Similarly, 6,199 posts in the BSF are lying vacant because of reasons such as retirement, resignations and delayed recruitment.

Officials said the number of young people applying for the CAPF has more or less remained stagnant because of people’s tendency to eye other “illustrious” career options. “The first target of those who want to join the armed forces is the Army, not the CAPfs, as the military is seen as a more rewarding and illustrious option than, say, CRPF. The pay packages of these organisations—Army and CAPFs—also differ, despite both of them doing the same work. Career options that offer better pay also stop people from trying for a CAPF job,” an MHA official said.

SSB, which guards India’s porous border with Nepal, is short of 17,500 personnel, a number that includes 886 gazetted officers.

The CISF, which protects critical installations including airports, refineries and the Delhi Metro, is facing a shortage of close to 13,500 personnel. “Our limited resources are widely spread and we have a massive shortage in our constabulary ranks—9,800 vacancies. Earlier, the installations we were required to protect were few but in the last 10 years, these have grown exponentially and now we have to also protect the Delhi Metro and the various new airports across the country. The recruitment, however, has not been adequate,” an official with the force said.

Officials stated that the number of vacancies in the rank of gazetted officers, when compared to the constabulary ranks, was more because of the reluctance of educated youngsters to offer themselves as candidates. “In Assam Rifles, we have a shortage of 266 gazetted officers, almost similar to the vacancies in the constabulary rank. Apart from declining interest, another reason for this is that the recruitment process of an officer takes longer than that of a constable. Unless and until salaries and perks of the CAPF are increased to match the free market, the vacancies will remain,” the official with the MHA stated.

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