THE India Reserve Battalion (IRB) is the first line of defence for internal security. But it isn’t so in Goa. IRB was raised in 2006 and its personnel were trained by Border Security Force experts in Madhya Pradesh. But they were never deployed for meeting terrorist or organised crime challenges.
The 630 IRB personnel have found no opportunities to use their specialised training. Instead they were deployed for maintaining law and order, patrolling, traffic duties–routine duties usually supposed to be performed by the Goa police. It is very improper and short-sighted for the state government to make a trained force so irrelevant to the task of meeting ever-growing threat from terrorism.
On July 26, 2001 the Government of India had for the first time sanctioned the India Reserve Battalion for the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The force was required to be raised on the pattern of a Central Paramilitary Force and should be sufficient in itself. The members of the Battalion could be sent on duty to any state or Union Territory on the direction of Union home ministry. After this almost all the states raised their IRB. In some states their Armed Forces, which were in place for long time, performed this task. Take the case of Puducherry. Seventy personnel of the India Reserve Battalion were given commando training as part of the territorial force’s plan to create two commando companies to tackle any untoward incident. This is in line with the Union home ministry’s direction after the Mumbai attack of 26/11 to all state governments to create their own force to tackle terrorist attacks.
It is quite outrageous that while the state government is not making serious attempts to revive the first unit, reports indicate that it is contemplating to raise a second unit. Does it imply that the first unit has lost its relevance? There is little doubt that raising of the second unit would be time consuming. Till then Goa would have to look to other states for meeting its needs. It is surprising that the government has taken the initiative after the Centre had decided to stop sanctioning of any fresh IRB unless the states push up their recruitment drive. The move of the state government is intriguing. The state government should be pragmatic and instead of wasting resources on such frivolous exercise focus on bridging the gap in their sanctioned police strength and actual strength. Significantly pointing out to the huge gap in police vacancies at the recently held chief ministers’ meet on internal security, the Union Home Minister, Mr P Chidambaram sought to know why the states should not accelerate recruitment and fill vacancies. The government has so far not implemented the Supreme Court directive for bringing about reforms in the police, and now it was dragging its feet on recruitment. The government should also ensure that the personnel of the IRB are meted out a fair treatment and given the benefits what policemen are expected to enjoy in order to work efficiently. It is extremely sad that they are being deprived of basic necessities and needs. The government ought to treat them better to bring up their morale.