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Securing our boundaries

 Simontini Bhattacharjee |  2017-01-08 19:58:34.0  |  New Delhi

Securing our  boundaries

In the last two and half years’ governance, along with the pro–poor schemes and schemes like “Beti Bachao, Beti Padao,” the present NDA government at the centre has been also successful in International diplomacy and Border Security Management. After the reported incessant cross–border violations in 2016, the government feels that feeling secured is as important as being secured. So the government is more focusing on expertise to overcome difficulties over country’s security.

The Government of India has planned to install a patrol–free multi–layered smart fence along its international borders by the end of 2017. Troops on the ground will respond when there is an alarm of an infiltration bid in the multi–tier security ring comprising the regular fence and laser walls. The government has also planned to completely seal the international borders with Pakistan, China and Bangladesh.

With Pakistan, India shares total 3,323 Kms from North Kashmir to Gujarat. Approximately 770 km of the Line of Control (LoC) and approximately 220 km of International Border (IB) have been a witness to frequent ceasefire violation and the influx of terrorists since 1990. 13921 civilians have lost their lives till 2015. Even this year also civilians and jawans have been losing their lives.

Youths are also being radicalised by Jihadi mantra and recently the country witnessed the prolonged tension in the valley of Kashmir over the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by Indian Army. While describing “Border Security Management” Home Secretary Rajeev Mehrishi mentioned, “BorderManagement doesn’t only mean to develop the infrastructure across the border areas, it also aims at the demographic betterment of the people who are living there. India shares 15, 106.7 km of its boundary with seven nations– Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. So the foreign forces manipulate the youth of Border States through social media, which is another bane of advanced technology.”

In September 2016, nearly 10 days after the Uri attack that claimed 18 jawans, India carried out surgical strikes in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, inflicting heavy casualties on terrorists and ‘those protecting them” and indicating a change of stand on the rules of engagement on the disputed line of control. The strike was carried out during the wee hours of September 28. The Indian government also sought the support of the Pakistan Army in erasing the menace of terrorism. Pakistan has responded to the government statement saying there has been “no such strike.” Even, there was a political dilemma surfaced among the other Indian political parties also over the strike.

India also tried to solve the situation from the Uri attack at the diplomatic level but did not receive an adequate response from its counterpart. BSF is presently manning 609 Border out Posts (BOPs) on Indo– Pakistan border. In pursuance of Group of Ministers recommendations, the government has approved construction of additional 126 BOPs on this border.

Apart from Pakistan, international border with China is also troubling. The border is not fully demarcated and the process of clarifying and confirming the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is in progress. The area is characterised by high altitude terrains and thick habitation which have resulted in the inadequate development of infrastructure in these regions.

According to defense experts apart from LAC, there is another area which has been affected by incessant intrusion by Chinese troops, is Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL). The Indo–Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) is the Border Guarding Force here.

ITBP has established BOPs along the Line of Actual Control in furtherance of this task. A total of 142 BOPs have been established by the ITBP on this border.

To redress the situation arising out of lack of infrastructure along Indo–China border, the Government has decided to undertake construction of 73 roads of operational significance along Indo–China border. Out of these 73 roads, 27 roads involving 804 km length are being constructed by Ministry of Home Affairs (D/o Border Management) in the States of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh at an estimated cost of Rs. 1937 crore.

International borders with Nepal and Bangladesh are also in alarming condition, mostly due to illegal immigration, and illegal border trades. Hence all the governments have agreed to address each other’s concerns on commerce and transit, including reduction of tariff barriers and checking illegal trade along the porous border between the countries.

Human trafficking, Cattle trafficking, illegal Drugs trading are also the main concern for these governments. However, political and defence experts allege the Border Security Force jawans for being associated with such illegal activities.

While speaking to border security forces’ officials and ex–servicemen, they agreed that sometimes, international border areas through plain, riverine, hilly/jungle, heavily populated areas, and the areas where cultivation is carried out become very challenging for fencing—these areas become key areas for these illegal activities and of cross–border violations.

Following the cross–border tensions, the demographic structure is also gradually changing. The Border States with Pakistan are mainly suffering. Civilians are being every day. In the last year, the cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided the enhancement the grant of compensation to the civilian victims under the scheme for the people of border states’ get victimized, either by losing lives or by getting injured. “Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims of Terrorist/ Communal/Left Wing Extremist (LWE), Cross Border Firing and Mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory” from Rs 3 lakhs to Rs 5 lakhs.

The decision came after PM Modi visited the state of Jammu and Kashmir on October 23 of 2014; the issue of financial assistance to the people killed in cross–border firing was raised. In view of the hardships faced by the civilian populations, the Government decided to include the civilian victims of cross–border firing under the Scheme.

At the same time, India also shares an international border with neighbouring country Bhutan, where there is no such diplomatic dispute or any border crisis. However, recently the country took strict measures on the import of vegetables from India, especially cauliflowers, green chillies and beans from the border districts of Assam and West Bengal because of high pesticide content.

India has also coastline of 7516.6 km running through the States of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal and the UTs of Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Keeping eye on the objective of strengthening the country’s Maritime security, the Home Ministry in September 2016 also issued about 13, 81,148 Biometric identity cards and 5000 card readers have been distributed to fishermen and other stakeholders for the first time. India is faced with multiple and complex security and strategic challenges. There is political turmoil and instability in the immediate neighbouring country Sri Lanka also. 

With the objective to help tracking vessels crossing IMBL and while entering in safety zone around Single Point Moorings (SPMs), the government has issued Colour Coding of Vessels. This will also help to identify vessels about the states to which it belongs to. Standard operating Procedure (SOP) has been issued for Coastal Police Station. Guidelines on Security of Non–major/minor ports have been circulated amongst the concerned stakeholders.

Coastal maps for putting information on the map which includes vital details and location of Coastal Police Stations (CPS), local Police Stations, intelligence setup, fish landing points, fishing villages, Ports, Customs Check Posts, Hospital, Railway Stations, Bus Station, Bomb disposal facilities etc also have been issued to CPSs. Security guideline for 1382 Islands and notification of ten Police Stations have been issued to deal with the crimes committed in International Waters, i.e. beyond territorial waters and up to Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ).

Moreover, the Coastal States/UTs are also directed for installation of high resolution of CCTV cameras on high rise buildings and Watch Towers/Light House all along coastal Areas for improving security and surveillance and enhancing security of industries located along the coast.

To strengthen the infrastructure of Marine Police Force of all coastal States/UTs for patrolling and surveillance of coastal areas, particularly shallow areas close to the coast a comprehensive and integrated ‘Coastal Security Scheme’ (CSS) was formulated by the government.

Simontini Bhattacharjee

Simontini Bhattacharjee

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