The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Two more battalions for BSF
- Border force chief assures 'Proper Returns' to BDR

Kadamtala, May 28: In another 10 months' time, the BSF's North Bengal Frontier will have two more battalions in the region. This, according to the BSF top brass, will help jawans guard the border more efficiently and effectively.

'By next March, two more battalions will be deployed in the frontier,' BSF director general A.K. Mitra said today in Siliguri. He admitted that with the present manpower, it was difficult to guard the border effectively. According to Mitra, the removal of the forces on short notices for activities like counter insurgency operations and election duties amplify difficulties in the border.

Against the 19 battalions sanctioned for manning the 1071-km long international border ' of which 149 km is still porous 'in north Bengal, only 17 are deployed currently.

This was Mitra's first visit to Siliguri after taking over as the director general of the border forces. He said it was not possible to stop hundred percent illegal immigration with the present strength of the BSF. The BSF chief, however, did not deny that his intelligence network was not adequately efficient to track down information regarding the infiltration of insurgents.

Mitra also said considering the rise in cross-border movement of militants in the region (recently eight Ulfa activists including a commander were arrested from here) as well as in some parts of the Northeast, the force is going to increase patrolling. It is also going to increase its gadgetry strength, he added.

About the exchange of fire with Bangladesh Rifles and the killing of Indian villagers, Mitra said: 'We will not be aggressive like them. According to the Union government directive, we will never open fire first. But if the BDR keeps on repeating it, we will give them proper returns.'

Mitra promised that in the next director-general level meeting to be held in Bangladesh next month, the BSF chief would try and convince his counterpart in Bangladesh not to interfere in development activities on the Indian side.

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