Last three-four years have been years of staggered disruptions. Enactment and amendments of certain laws led to massive protests and prolonged agitations creating chaotic situations for common people. The situations could have flared up on slight provocation and police had to restrain throughout to control. At those moments again, the Rapid Action Force played a vital role. The professional ethics it displays had been reckoned again. It was the need of the time. On October 7, RAF is celebrating 29 years of its existence.
The emerging contours of internal security clearly indicate that tackling these conflicts will be a greater challenge in the coming years. The governments will need to ensure peace instantly so that economic activities are not hampered. Some of these challenges are fueled by inimical forces outside the country as well as within too. Funded openhandedly by the anti-social elements as well. To tackle such trust deficit and disgruntlement, Rapid Action Force (RAF) was brought into existence by the central government. It was carved out within CRPF to be a specialized force to deal with such critical issues of changing paradigm of public order.
“Every success story starts with a dream”, in the case of RAF it was the dream of making the world a safe place to live for everyone. RAF has been brought into existence with its unique methodology of “minimum use of force” which is the baseline for public order management in the present era. Distinct in their blue dungarees, the men and women of RAF are trained professionals who understand mob psychology and are aware of the ethos and culture of the area.
15 RAF Bn. spread all across the Indian terrain are fully equipped with training, latest equipment / gadgets and less lethal weapons / munitions to handle public order situations all across the country and are always ready to handle such situations within zero response time. The men and women of RAF are being trained on the latest trend of public order management, gender sensitization, mob psychology, latest less lethal weapons and munitions to handle the emerging public order situation all across India.
Intersectionality of diversity and discontent has always been a big challenge for social democracy. The ever-increasing divisive forces and exposition has created a culture of protests and agitations. The impatience of people in general has necessitated that the agencies cater to the instant demands immediately or face the consequences. The public probity demands that decisions be taken after due deliberations involving all stakeholders. And thus, any intermittent delay results in major public order problems.
The need to understand the challenges of social democracy, why riots happen, problems of public order management, identifying the cause-effect relationship and bringing in evidence-based approach and action plans has never been felt as much.
A neutral and professional force specialized in its task, which reaches at the site of crisis in a ‘moment’s time’. With the motto ‘to serve humanity with sensitive policing’ RAF responds to the vulnerable sections of the society promptly and provides succor to the victims. The RAF has punched above its weight and has evolved with its unique methodology to handle public order management.
The necessity of such a specialized force to deal with such situations was a calling felt because CRPF was already burdened with and committed towards multifarious duties pertaining to Internal Security and Counter-Insurgency operations. The Government needed a force that could intervene in such law and order situations with special expertise, appropriate behavioral traits, attitudinal orientation and above all, literally responding in ‘Zero response time’ so that the situation is brought under control before it goes out of hand. For this reason, the RAF keeps its units in constant readiness, 24X7.
The distinct and sensitive nature of communal riots and crowd control duties, necessitates the use of non-lethal equipment. It also needs a different mind-set to deal with such situations. This duty is very different from the other armed Forces, which are trained to deal with insurgency and militancy. The personnel are, therefore, put through special pre-induction training. Communal clashes, student riots, farmers riots, etc. can no longer be quelled by lathi’s and weapons, but they call for psychological handling. It is more a mind game than a game of brute force.
RAF often also adorns the role of effective immediate responders when dealing with rescue and relief operations during natural calamities and man-made disasters. It’s Units by virtue of their disposition in urban centers also play the role of first responders before arrival of other forces in the event of terrorist attacks.
Public awareness campaigns are held showcasing the fault lines and generating a community-based, community-led, community-owned policing system. As a torch bearer in such a system, RAF, by the very nature of its ethos adopts legally correct methods in its handling and follows evidence-based policing.
For strengthening the social security ecosystem, the citizen is not only a stakeholder, but also duty bound to maintain order. If the citizens are empowered and are oriented to be duty bound, their indulgence in such matters, the public pressure, the peer pressure etc. will act as a force multiplier in preventing losses. RAF in its charter of duties believes in educating people to be a harbinger of peace.
With growing complexities of public order in future, RAF is expected to play an even larger role of a stabilising neutral police force in various kinds of law and order situations. It will have to dwell not only on what it possesses at present, but also embark on constant review and up-gradation of its capabilities. The challenges that lie ahead are to be taken as opportunities to further model the RAF as a principal force to maintain public order in the country. It has already commenced its march in this direction.
Author of this article is Amber Agarwal