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SSB plugs gaps in Bhutan border

New Delhi, March 25: The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) is setting up as many as 132 border outposts along the 699-km-long Indo-Bhutan border to prevent Ulfa militants and Maoists from sneaking into the country.

“We are ready with 60 border outposts. The rest will be completed by March 2008. Similarly, 450 border outposts are being constructed along the 1,750-km-long Indo-Nepal border to stop smuggling and infiltration attempts by terrorists,” said SSB director-general Tilak Kak.

The force has plans to connect all the 582 border outposts electronically, using a remote sensing surveillance system that will be monitored at the SSB Academy at Srinagar, in Uttarakhand. “We are also planning to develop a network that will connect all our frontiers, battalions and sector commands with the headquarters,” Kak said.

SSB personnel will patrol the Kali river, which links Nepal with India through Pithoragarh district in Kumaon, to check the movements of militants who are using the Indo-Nepal border to sneak in.The paramilitary force has so far arrested 1,036 infiltrators, 1,015 smugglers and 21 terrorists along the borders with Nepal and Bhutan. It also saved 17 boys from Malda in West Bengal while being taken by traffickers to Nepal last year.

The SSB has urged the Union home ministry to allow it to raise 20 more battalions to effectively man the 582 border outposts. The force recently received sanction to raise 20 battalions, increasing its strength from just 21 battalions to 41 units with a cumulative manpower of 55,000.

“However, we require 20 additional battalions. In all, 61 battalions are needed so that we can rotate our personnel, who have to guard international borders under a variety of difficult conditions,” said a senior SSB official. The SSB was set up in 1963, after the Indo-China war. It was initially called the Special Services Bureau.

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