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ITBP to land in fortnight

Feb. 4: The first company of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) is likely to reach north Bengal within a fortnight.

The Union home ministry had agreed to deploy the force along the international frontier that runs through this region after chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee raised security concerns in the wake of heightened Maoist activities.

The process was speeded up after an emergency was declared in Nepal early this week.

Two battalions of the SSB have already been posted along the border.

'The Union home ministry had agreed to send the ITBP during our meeting with them earlier this week. The ITBP personnel are better suited for this region,' said Amit Kiran Deb, home secretary, in Darjeeling today.

The experience of the ITBP, which has worked in high altitudes and rocky terrain, is expected to come in handy in manning the higher reaches of the Indo-Nepal border, like the Singalila range in Darjeeling district.

The ITBP was originally formed in 1962 for the security of the 2,115-km Indo-Tibet border that runs between Karakoram Pass and Lipulkeh Pass, along the tri-junction of India, Nepal and China.

Inspector general of police (north Bengal) S.N. Sarkar told The Telegraph in Siliguri: 'The ITBP will basically supplement the SSB on certain porous stretches of the India-Nepal border in Darjeeling. Deployment of the ITBP will help manage the border more effectively since the force personnel are specially trained to handle crisis situations.'

The inspector-general of police yesterday had a series of talks with the ITBP team in Siliguri.

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