NEW DELHI: The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) have suspended all non-essential movement of its troops and staffers as they have extended their leaves by another 10 days, till April 15, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, officials said on Monday.
The earlier orders were in the mid March asking jawans and officers of CAPFs to “be where they are” till April 5.
“Fresh orders have been issued and all non-essential and routine movements, transfers and postings have been put on hold. No such travel will take place in these forces till April 15 now,” a senior official said.
“In order to cut down travel risk to prevent the possibility of spread of the disease during travel, the competent authority has directed that all personnel who are already on leave and likely to join duty before April 5 may be asked to extend leave till April 15,” the order accessed by PTI said.
“This may also be ensured by intimating affected personnel over phone by respective leave sanctioning authorities till further order,” it added.
The order said the decision has also been taken “in view of the prevailing situation arising out of COVID-19 and the lockdown imposed by the government in the country”.
The CAPFs have a combined strength of about 10 lakh personnel. These forces comprise the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).
Counter-terror force National Security Guard (NSG) has also been included in the order.
“This order was first issued to ensure prevention of mass outbreak of the pandemic in these forces that are the backbone of the country’s internal security and deployed for vital duties, including border guarding and counter-terrorist operations,” a senior CAPF official had said.
The troops live very closely in demarcated camp areas and even one COVID-19 positive case among them can lead to infecting hundreds of colleagues in a short time, he had said.
A senior CRPF officer said movement of officers and troops on leave or training will only be allowed in case of a “strict emergency” and that will be cleared after approval by senior commanders who will review and decide each case on its individual merit.
The Union Home Ministry had last month directed these forces that all non-emergency leaves of personnel living in units or on-duty should be “cancelled” in order to minimise the risk of contracting coronavirus during travel and they should get into “battle mode” to combat the pandemic by ensuring personal and public safety.
There have been over a dozen positive cases of infection in these forces till now and all are in the second or third stage of sample collection and testing.
CRPF Director General (DG) A P Maheshwari and senior security advisor in the Home Ministry K Vijay Kumar, along with 70 others, have gone into self-quarantine after they came in direct or indirect contact with a CRPF doctor who was tested positive recently.
Maheshwari’s COVID-19 test came negative on Sunday.
In another case, 11 CISF personnel were similarly tested positive and after this development their camp in Navi Mumbai, that housed 145 personnel, was vacated and sanitised.
The first CISF jawan, who was confirmed with the COVID-19 infection, has subsequently tested negative in three more tests and his fourth such diagnosis is awaited.
A BSF officer posted in Tekanpur in Gwalior has also tested positive and is currently in isolation. (AGENCIES)