The recruits learned to light fires without giving away their position, trap small mammals and snakes for food, to move through the jungle without leaving a trial or create a sound, and to manage injuries

Renjith Kumar, one of the 919 strapping recruit constables who passed out of the Central Reserve Police Force’s (CRPF) training centre here last week, is the son of two subsistence-level farmers from Kasaragod.

His parents, Kunjiraman and Sundari, perhaps epitomise the thousands of ordinary Indians whose sons and daughters form the bulk of the CRPF’s fighting force.

Renjith will soon be commissioned for active duty in one of the CRPF’s combat battalions deployed for counter insurgency operations in a remote outpost on the country’s north-eastern border.

It will be a hard posting for Renjith, where he will fight alongside veterans till he is ‘fire hardened.’

The CRPF instructors who trained Renjith and the rest of his batch are combat hardened veterans themselves. Led by their Deputy Inspector-General Ajay Bharathan and Chief Training Officer B. Jayakrishnan, the cadets had spent the whole of June in dense forests to hone their skills in guerrilla warfare. Their training module is a State secret and a continuously evolving one.

CRPF instructors told The Hindu that the men were taught to use the jungle to their tactical advantage in combat. For one, they imbued in the recruits a ‘new bowel and bladder’ discipline that would help them resist the time-bound natural rhythm of their bodies. It meant no more fixed meal or toilet timings during combat.

The recruits learned to survive on dry rations (palm sugar, dried fruits, and nuts carried in their back-packs) for days.

They were taught to purify their own urine and drink it, gather ‘drinkable fluids’ from various sources, and to survive on berries, roots, and the flesh of small game, including that of bandicoots and snakes.

“We taught them how to urinate and fill their water canteens without making a sound, among other survival and fighting skills that cannot be revealed,” an instructor says.

The recruits learned to light fires without giving away their position, trap small mammals and snakes for food, to move through the jungle without leaving a trial or create a sound, and to manage injuries.

They learned to use handheld GPS devices to triangulate their position at night and in terrains where there are no visible landmarks. If they are to get lost, they will use the devices to ‘fall back’ to their units or pre-designated ‘pick up’ points.

Every year, the CRPF loses scores of its men to booby-trapped land mines, remotely triggered roadside bombs, ambushes, fire fights with insurgents, jungle fevers, and snake bites.

Sundari realises that she is sending her son in harm’s way.

But she consoles herself by thinking that her son’s new job will bring him a good bride and social status and financial security to her family.