Paramilitary Forces in India

Paramilitary forces are Semi-militarized forces whose organizational structure, tactics, and function are similar to a professional military, but not formally the country’s armed forces. Eight (8) paramilitary forces are present in India, these are CISF, SSB, ITBP, CRPF, BSF, NSG, ASSAM RIFLES, and INDIAN COAST GUARD. This group of eight paramilitary forces is known as the Central Paramilitary forces (CPMF). Excluding NSG, ASSAM RIFLES, and INDIAN COAST GUARD all other forces are known as the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) by the Ministry of Home affairs from 2011 to avoid confusion. But in general, all these forces are known as the paramilitary forces of our country. Now, we will discuss the particular forces, their historical background, motto, and their role in Nation Security.


1. Central Industrial Security Force (CISF):

CISF provides security to over 300 industrial units and other industrial units located in various parts of the country. It was established in 1969. It provides security to the domestic and international airports, major ports, space installations, atomic energy plants, Delhi metro, central PSU, etc. CISF is headed by an IPS officer and administrative control of MHA. With globalization and liberalization, CISF has become a special agency which provides security to the critical infrastructure of the country in the diverse region from Naxal to terrorism-affected areas.

After the CISF act 2008, CISF provides security to private and cooperative establishments across the country by charging a fee. This act also provides deployment of CISF to protect Indian missions abroad and participation in UN peacekeeping forces.

The motto of CISF is PROTECTION AND SECURITY and its role is:

  • Protect India’s government and private infrastructure which play a vital role in India’s economy.
  • Promote security and peace among citizens.
  • Also, play important role in conducting the election.
  • CISF commando also provides security to the ministers and other officials.


2. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF):

It was initially raised as “Crown Representative police ” in 1939 and later renamed as the central reserve police force (CRPF) after independence. The basic role of this force is to act as a reserve force to assist state police to maintain law and order. This force is All India in character, both in deployment and in composition.

The CRPF has two specialized units:

Rapid Action force:  It is a special anti-riot force which is specially trained in riot-like situations. The RAF was raised by converting 10 existing CRPF battalion.

CoBRA Battalions:  this is specially trained and equipped for counter-insurgency and jungle warfare and named as Commando Battalion for Resolute Action(CoBRA). These battalions are deployed in Left-wing extremism-affected areas.

The motto of CRPF is Service and Loyalty and its role are:

  • Riot and crowd control.
  • Counter insurgency operations.
  • Dealing with LWE and terrorism.
  • Protection of VIP and important installation.
  • Rescue and relief operation during Natural calamities.


3. Border Security Force (BSF):

The Border security force(BSF) is the border guarding force of the country which protects India’s border with Pakistan and Bangladesh. This force was established in 1965. It guards the Indian border during peacetime and prevents transnational crime. It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs and currently, it stands as the world’s largest border guarding force.

The motto of BSF is Duty Unto Death and the task of BSF is:

During Peacetime:

  • Promote a sense of security among citizens along with the border areas.
  • Prevent trans-border crime like Drug trafficking, cattle smuggling, etc.
  • Guard border from infiltration.
  • From the last few years, BSF duty increased to deployed in counter-insurgency and internal security duties.

During wartime:

  • Holding ground in less threatened areas.
  • Protection of vital installation.
  • Assistance in control of refugees.
  • Anti- infiltration duties in specified areas.


4. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP):

It is a border guarding force and under the administrative control of MHA. It was established in 1962 after the war, to secure borders along with China in the peace period. ITBP is mountain trained force and most of the officers and men are professionally trained mountaineers and skiers.

The motto of ITBP is Shaurya Dridhta Karma Nishta and its mandate is:

  • Vigil Northern border and protect it from infiltration, along with that to promote a sense of security among citizens across the border.
  • Check illegal migration and transborder crimes along the Chinese border.
  • Provide security to VIP and sensitive Installation of government.
  • Restore and preserve law and order in the disturbed areas.
  • To maintain peace in the country.
  • Recently Some battalions are deployed in LWE and Terrorism affected areas to counter it.
  • It also provides security to Mansarovar yatra and the foreign Indian embassy in Afghanistan.


5. Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB):

It is a border guarding force under the administrative control of the ministry of home affairs. It’s primary role is to protect India’s international border with Nepal and Bhutan. It was formerly known as the Special Service Bureau.

SSB was setup in 1963 in the wake of the Sino-Indian war. Special Service Bureau was renamed as Sashastra Seema Bal in 2001 by MHA after the concept of one border one force. It is the first border guarding force that decided to recruit women in the force.

The motto of SSB is Service, Security, and brotherhood and its role are:

  • To protect the international border with Nepal and Bhutan, also promote a sense of security among citizens.
  • Also deployed in counter-insurgency and terrorism-affected areas.
  • It provides logistic support to RAW and IB.
  • To prevent smuggling and other trans-border crimes.


6. National Security Guard (NSG):

The NSG was established in 1984 mainly for counter-insurgency operations. This force was setup under the cabinet secretariat by the NSG act 1986. Recruitment in this force is from various CAPF, no direct recruitment for this force i.e. NSG is 100% deputation force. Its primary task to neutralize the terrorist attacks and provide security to VVIP. NSG has an edge over terrorist outfits due to specialized training and high technological weapon.

The Motto of NSG is Sarvatra Savottam Suraksha and its role is:

  • Neutralizing terror attack.
  • Handling air and land Hijacking situation.
  • Bomb disposal.
  • Hostage rescue.

Operation black tornado and operation cyclone are some important missions carried out by NSG during the Mumbai attack in 2008.


7. Assam Rifles (AR):

Assam Rifles was formerly known as the “Friend of the Northeast people”. This force is mainly deployed in North East and the main aim is to protect internal security and to protect the border of Indo-Myanmar.  It is headed and lead by the army. It assists the Indian armed forces but reports to MHA. This force was mainly administrated by MHA and operated by the Indian army.


8. Indian Coast Guard (ICG):

The aim of this force is to protect Indian maritime security and enforce maritime law, with jurisdiction in the territorial water of the country. It was operated by the ministry of defense. After 2008, GOI has expanded ICG assets, infrastructure, and training levels. This force has tripled from 2010 to 2019 in manpower, vessels, and aircraft.

The motto of ICG  is vayam Rakshamah.


Despite such importance of the above mentioned Indian Paramilitary forces, they are facing many challenges such as;

  • Lack of infrastructure and manpower.
  • Technological these forces are not superior as per need of time.
  • Cadre’s office V/s IPS issue also undermines the effect of forces.
  • Continuous increase in no of suicide by jawans also an issue of concern.
  • Facilities are not equal to the military.


By seeing the importance of paramilitary forces in the protection of the Indian borders and maintaining the law and order, there is a need to address these challenges by including all stakeholders concerned with the issue so that peace and prosperity should be maintained in the country.


This article is written by;

Mr. Sachin

Selected as Assistant Commandant (UPSC CAPF 2019)

Also appeared for Civil Services Interview

Email: [email protected]