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Thursday, April 8, 2010

No water, food or medicines. Now, go fight ‘biggest threat’

CRPF Jawans Lament Pathetic Camp Conditions

Dornapal (Chhattisgarh): For six years now, the Indian government has gone red in the face proclaiming Maoists the single biggest threat to the country's security. Yet, India is sending its foot soldiers into battle on empty stomachs, often without adequate potable water and with almost no medical facilities. 

    CRPF men on the frontline of the war against Maoists say the red rebels are just one of the many threats they face. Jawans of the 62nd battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force holed up in Chintalnar camp, near the site of Tuesday's ambush that left 76 CRPF men dead, say they can defend themselves against another 
Maoist attack—but are powerless against malaria and poisonous reptiles—common scourges in the dense jungles that are their battleground. 
    Conditions at other camps aren't better either, the jawans said, speaking on condition of anonymity. 
    Several jawans claimed patrolling parties often have to go without food. "We are fighting in anti-insurgency mode. Army soldiers get dry fruit and other eatables in sufficient quantities during operations; we have to fight on empty stomachs, with dry throats. Our men need food that matches the task at hand,'' said a CRPF jawan. 
    "Malaria is one of the biggest challenges of living here. People frequently fall sick; some of us have had to proceed on sick leave. The non-availability of medical facilities has made matters worse,'' said a CRPF jawan staying in the camp. 
'Many ways in which our force can be better utilised' 
Dornapal (Chhattisgarh): Jawans of the 62nd CRPF battalion stationed at Chintalnar camp, near the site of Tuesday's ambush, say malaria and poisonous reptiles leave them powerless, particularly as medical facilities are almost zero. "Forget qualified doctors, there aren't even decent medicine shops. Local doctors prescribe the same regular medicines for (every) disease. The closest hospitals are far.'' 
    Apart from the lack of medical assistance, jawans also complained of being bitten by insects and snakes. "At night, you are not sure what may bite or sting you. Forget patrolling, one is not safe even in the camps,'' said a constable. 
    Water scarcity is another problem, and while there may be a few pumps, these are often rendered useless in the absence of power. "There is no surety that we will get drinking water. Sometimes we have to drink from the same pond that animals use to quench their thirst; we have to drink water from streams and rivers. The unhygienic living conditions are leading to disease (outbreaks) and many personnel are falling sick,'' said a jawan. TNN

LIVE-IN JOB: It's a checkpost, residential unit and sleeping arrangement, all rolled into one, at this SSB camp in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh


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