The Border Security Force (BSF), which guards the country’s volatile border with Pakistan, will raise six new battalions comprising around 7,000 personnel, official sources said today.
The Ministry of Home Affairs also sanctioned an amount of Rs 2,090.94 crore to the force. The new battalions will also be deployed along the smuggling and infiltration prone India-Bangladesh border.
The troops will be recruited fresh by the force, to be deployed as part of the six battalions. They will be on the ground in over an year’s time, the sources said.
Each BSF battalion has over 1,000 jawans and officers.
The home ministry, the sources said, had on January 19 approved the proposal of the force to raise these fresh battalions and asked the BSF headquarters here to quickly initiate the process of operationalising them.
Four battalions, as per the order, will be raised as part of the forces’ task of guarding eight Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) along Pakistan and Bangladesh, while the rest two will supplement the working units on the ground and help in the replacement of the tired troops.
The Press Trust of India (PTI), had on January 14, first reported that the government was planning to raise 15 new battalions in the country’s two important border guarding forces– the BSF and ITBP– to better dominate and secure the frontiers guarded by these two paramilitary forces.
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) is tasked to guard the 3,488 km long Indian frontier with China.
Sources said the home ministry’s sanction to allow the ITBP to raise new battalions was in the “final stages”.
The BSF had last year projected for enhancement of its manpower, from the about 2.5-lakh personnel, by sanctioning of new units so that they could be deployed in the Assam and West Bengal flanks of the 4,096-km long Indo-Bangla border to better check smuggling, infiltration and other cross-border crimes.
The border guarding force had wanted a similar addition in numbers to effectively guard the Indo-Pak International Border (IB), especially in Punjab and Jammu regions where it faces frequent instances of unprovoked firing and ceasefire violations from the other side.
The BSF is responsible for providing security to eight ICPs at Attari in Punjab (India-Pakistan border), Petrapole, Chandrabangha and Hili in West Bengal, Dawki (Meghalaya), Akhaura (Tripura), Sutarkhandi (Assam) and Kawarpuchiah (Mizoram) along the Indo-Bangla border.
Sources said the sanction of new battalions to the BSF would also help it better rotate troops from forward locations to comparatively lesser tasked units in the mainland.
The ITBP has similarly pushed its case saying it wants to reduce the inter-BoP (border out post) distance along the icy Himalayan frontier that it is tasked to guard.
The frequent instances of transgressions and confrontations with the Chinese army at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is also seen as the major reason for the ITBP seeking to enhance its numbers.
The mountain-trained force had recently got sanctions to set up at least 47 new BoPs along the border for effective control of the Himalayan border area.
The home ministry has three border guarding forces under its command, the third being the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) that is tasked with guarding Indian borders with Nepal and Bhutan.