Govt puts cork on CRPF booze lines

Bend it like Ramdev and forget the Old Monk.

By Imran Ahmed Siddiqui
  • Published 22.07.15

New Delhi, July 21: Bend it like Ramdev and forget the Old Monk.

The CRPF has decided to stop the supply of liquor to its personnel following a directive from the Centre that has cited "adverse health effects" from alcohol, weeks after the Narendra Modi government made daily yoga compulsory for all paramilitary forces.

"...purchase of liquor at the unit level is hereby stopped with immediate effect as its use by the force/personnel is adversely affecting their health. Henceforth, no institutions will purchase liquor as a routine measure," said a CRPF circular dated June 29.

A senior officer in the CRPF - the largest paramilitary force with over 3.5 lakh personnel - is entitled to three bottles of whisky, rum, brandy or wine and six bottles of beer each monthat subsidised rates.

The quota for junior officers and jawans is half-a-bottle of whisky, brandy or wine and three bottles of beer each month. The limits do not apply to those posted at altitudes of 9,000ft and above.

The latest order follows a May home ministry circular to all seven paramilitary forces - the CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP, NSG, SSB and the Assam Rifles - to include yoga in daily exercises. The forces have a combined strength of 10 lakh.

The liquor curbs and the yoga diktat seemed to have dampened spirits, with a CRPF commandant in Maoist-infested Chhattisgarh terming the latest circular "amusing". "We fail to understand why the Centre wants to impose certain things on people.... Is it not too much of an interference? We can do yoga and, at the same time, enjoy our drinks after work."

Another commandant, in Jammu and Kashmir, acknowledged yoga's benefits but also stressed the need for "regular supply of liquor to beat stress and unwind". "This (liquor) is the only thing we have to entertain ourselves while being away from our families," he said.

But the bosses didn't see a conflict between bottling something like an Old Monk - a rum "warhorse" to legions of troopers - and letting Ramdev's yoga lessons flow freely.

"It was affecting their health and that's why the purchase of liquor has been stopped," CRPF chief Prakash Mishra said, adding that high-altitude postings were exempted.

Another senior CRPF official linked the rising suicide rates and fragging - juniors killing seniors - to alcoholism and cited a 2011 internal survey that highlighted alcohol addiction as one of the reasons, besides mental illness, stress, family problems and financial issues.