Tuesday, November 30, 2010

BSF may guard border with Myanmar

From Economic Times

NEW DELHI: The Border Security Force (BSF) may soon be tasked with guarding the Indo-Myanmar border, leaving Assam Rifles, the force currently deployed in areas bordering Myanmar , to concentrate on counter-insurgency operations in Manipur and Nagaland. 

BSF has already indicated its willingness to take over charge of the 1,643 km Indo-Myanmar border, but sought sanctioning 41 additional battalions before it assumes new responsibility. The additional manpower is needed to handle infiltration, smuggling and other border-related issues. 

“BSF was asked if it was willing and capable of taking over security of the Indo-Myanmar border, as the Assam Rifles is deployed well inside the border and not really effective (in handling border-related issues). We have already said that we are ready to move in provided we are sanctioned 41 additional battalions, and given more sectors and frontiers,” BSF director-general Raman Srivastava told a press conference here on Monday ahead of the force’s 45th Raising Day. 

The home ministry is agreeable to BSF’s request and may soon sanction raising of more battalions to make way for the force’s induction at the border with Myanmar. It has formally identified BSF as the force for guarding the said border and may soon put up the proposal before the Cabinet Committee on Security for clearance. “BSF can start setting up border outposts following the clearance, which could be 3-4 months from now,” said a senior government official. 

BSF’s induction at the Indo-Myanmar border is crucial to the government’s border roads development programme. The force will provide the security component for the government’s ambitious plans to construct border roads adjoining China, Bangladesh and Myanmar. “Once BSF moves in, its personnel can give cover to CPWD and PWD contractors and engineers to take up road projects near the Indo-Myanmar border,” an official pointed out. 

At present, the Assam Rifles is burdened with the twin responsibility of guarding the treacherous India-Myanmar border and also conducting counter-insurgency operations in Manipur and Nagaland. There has always been a school of thought that Assam Rifles, the oldest paramilitary force in the country, should be relieved of its border guarding responsibilities and allowed to concentrate solely on counter-insurgency operations. 

As of now, BSF is mandated to guard the India-Bangladesh border in north-east. The Assam Rifles is tasked with guarding the India-Myanmar border and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police is looks after the India-Bhutan border.

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