Indian Coast Guard is a Paramilitary Armed Force of the Union under MoD and Not A Central Police Force
(an old article published earlier in Sachikhabar.co.in)
Colonel Awadhesh Kumar. Special Forces, Veteran
A committee of senior Police Officials after failing to ensure safety and security of the Country through their efficient policing are now making suggestion to further jeopardise it. Donning the bloated badges of police appointments (there are no RANKS in police forces ) known as Director General Of Police, these Officers have gone ahead to suggest that the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) be brought under the home ministry. A proposal not worth travelling the distance between the two buildings the NORTH BLOCK and the SOUTH BLOCK. As per reports this joke of a proposal from the North Block has already been once rejected by the defence ministry.
The Home Ministry controls the Central Police Forces. These are the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Indo Tibetan Border Police, the Sashastra. Seema Bal and the Central Industrial Security Force. Over a period of time, the media has knowingly and unknowingly bestowed upon them the nomenclature of Paramilitary, which they are not from any angle. Yes, the Home Ministry does have a Para Military Force under its administrative control, purely for budgeting purpose, but rightly it is under the Operational Control of the Army. This Force is the Assam Rifles. The reason for budgetary control under the Home Ministry was two folds. Firstly as a Country,earlier probably we felt quite apologetic in front of other nations to have a large defence budget….after all the Gandhian legacy and Panchsheel were more important than the safety and security of the Nation. Secondly most of the task carried out by Assam Rifles was in aid to the Civil Authorities, as in the North Eastern States the Civil Administration used to keep collapsing like a house of cards.
After the Mumbai carnage carried out by the ISI sponsored terrorists, the Central and State Govts had no choice but to try and tighten the highly porous Coastal Security network. However instead of doing some real work, taking the easiest route the home ministry simply drafted a proposal to the defence ministry in 2016 demanding the efficient Coast Guard be brought under it rather than being under the defence ministry. This the Home Ministry chaps said would improve the coordination with the marine and coastal police of state governments. No action was taken to try and bring up the standards of these constituents to a level where they could perform their task efficiently. The defence ministry had plainly and rightly rejected the proposal at that time. Thank God at least the Navy was spared under this proposal and the Shipping Ministry has till date forwarded no such proposal to the Cabinet to take control of the Indian Navy !!!
The coast guard is basically for the protection and guarding of the Exclusive Economic Zone of India which covers an area of 224000 sq km. It is also tasked with preventing the use of sea route by terrorists to carry terror attacks, searching and boarding of suspected vessels in sea and pollution control operations in and around the country’s sea boundaries. Also it is the second line of defence and has a major role in Coastal defence especially during war, thus leaving the Navy to operate freely in the Indian Ocean Region both during peace and war.
There has to be total synergy and coordination between the Navy and the Coast Guard. Apart from the laid down tasks, the Coast Guard also has to play diplomatic roles for the country as it engages with regional l coast guards and plays an important role in defence ties with countries such as Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh,Myanmar, Thailand Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Borneo and even Pakistan. It also engages with far off countries with good will visits like Japan, South Korea and Philippines.
Indian states have no jurisdiction outside the 12 km boundary as per international convention. So only an Armed Forces of the Union under the Defence Ministry can rightly engage with other foreign forces and enforce India’s Will in these areas. To be effective The Coast Guard has to have the ethos and spirit of the Armed Forces and not the Police mentality.
The home ministry is examining a report it got from the panel of Directors General of police (DGPs) advocating reform in maritime security. Well nowadays 24×7 security needs total synergy between all the Components. They cannot and should not be competing with each other, instead function in a seamless manner.
Therefore for Coastal Defence and Security, each Naval Command must have a HQ Coastal Defence and Security commanded by a Vice Admiral. This HQ will have a HQ Coastal Defence Flotilla, two HQ Coastal Surveillance & Missile Defence and a Coastal Security Centre.
The Coastal Security Centre will be the agency to coordinate and control all the Maritime agencies of the various Coastal States and the Central Govt, operating in the jurisdiction of the Naval Command. A similar Area Security Centre will be functioning under Command of each Naval Area eg Gujarat Naval Area, Maharashtra Naval Area and Goa Naval Area and so on. So each State can intimately engage with their Area Security Centres for all coastal security related matters. Only then can we even think of having a total 24×7 security.
Since we are on the topic of Command and Control, there is a need to study in detail and thereafter creating just three Forces under the Home Ministry. One should be an actual Paramilitary Force that is patterned on the lines of Infantry, officered by Regular Army Officers on Deputation and a permanent cadre of those having served as Short Service Commissioned Officers. This Force should be called the Border Guards and used for guarding the International borders. The Second Force should be a Central Police Force called the National Guards and it should have a Counter Insurgency Wing, a Disaster Management Wing and a Industrial Security Wing. The third Force should be the Counter Terrorism and VVIP protection Force and it just requires changing the name of the present NSG.
Even the Army must start thinking on revamping the Rashtriya Rifles now only. A time will come when we will not be requiring more than two CIF HQ in the entire J&K and they will basically be for guarding our Communication Zone. Therefore the remaining three CIF HQ will be required to be placed one each under the two Area HQ of Central Command and one under HQ ATT& KK Area for providing all kinds of aids as and when required by Civil Authorities. Thus will then leave the fighting formations to concentrate on their peace time training and various Regimental activities equally essential to keep intact the fighting spirit and ethos.