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More boots on border with China

The Centre has directed the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which guards the India-China frontier, to deploy more soldiers along the Line of Actual Control and increase outposts, in the midst of an escalating standoff with the neighbouring country.

By Imran Ahmed Siddiqui
  • Published 20.07.17
  •  

New Delhi, July 19: The Centre has directed the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which guards the India-China frontier, to deploy more soldiers along the Line of Actual Control and increase outposts, in the midst of an escalating standoff with the neighbouring country.

Sources in the Union home ministry said the move to deploy more ITBP personnel was taken in the aftermath of frequent face-offs with the People's Liberation Army of China along the disputed border in Arunachal Pradesh.

"The move has also been prompted by the ongoing face-off between the two countries near their tri-junction with Bhutan. The deployment of more soldiers will ensure better patrolling along the frontier and also help us to keep a close tab on the movement of Chinese troops in the area and thwart possible incursions," a senior home ministry official said.

The ITBP guards the 3,488km India-China border along Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. A large part of the border is disputed.

ITBP sources said the force's newly appointed director-general, R.K. Pachnanda, recently visited the India-China frontier and submitted a report to the home ministry last week on the status of the current deployment along the frontier.

"The DGP has submitted a blueprint to bolster the ITBP to secure the border, highlighting several critical zones where patrolling needs to be intensified. He has also suggested increasing border outposts and more logistics, especially in areas that have witnessed confrontations in the past," a senior official said.

The 90,000-strong ITBP was introduced on October 24, 1962, specifically to guard the Chinese frontier after the India-China war.

"Now, there are nearly 20,000 troops guarding sensitive zones along the China frontier. According to the proposal, the number of troops in these areas will almost be doubled," a security official said.

Sources in the security establishment said during a recent assessment, the Centre mulled the option of doubling the grant to upgrade the ITBP as part of a modernisation plan and provide the force latest weaponry.

Sources in the paramilitary force said the ITBP was sanctioned Rs 270 crore during 2013-2017 but the entire amount was yet to be released.

The home ministry recently objected to the Indian Army's renewed demand for operational command of the ITBP, saying the paramilitary force was not adequately equipped to meet the challenges on the tricky China border.

The Rajnath Singh-led home ministry has cited convention according to which borders are guarded by paramilitary forces while the army remains behind this first line of defence.

On the Chinese side too, the People's Armed Police, also a paramilitary force, guards the border while the People's Liberation Army is stationed behind the first line of defence.

According to the defence ministry, the China border is under threat and the army should have operational command of the ITBP. The paramilitary force is now under the command of the Union home ministry.

Of late, frequent border skirmishes and several incidents of transgression by Chinese troops have been reported, especially in the Ladakh and Sikkim sectors.

Mulayam warning

Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav today warned the government that.

China was preparing to attack India in collaboration with Pakistan and demanded a discussion in the Lok Sabha on the preparedness to counter the threat.

"India is facing a big danger from China. China has joined hands with Pakistan. It has made full preparation to attack India," the former defence minister said during Zero Hour. "What is the government doing about it? There should be a discussion on the issue," the 77-year-old leader said, citing the military standoff between India and China.

Mulayam said he had learnt that China had buried atomic weapons in Pakistan but added that only the government and its intelligence agencies would know the truth.

Mulayam's "obsession" with China is well-known and the leader raises the issue in almost every Parliament session.

"I have said time and again that if there is one greatest enemy of India, it is China.... China has started preparing for a war near the Tibet border. We should strongly oppose it," he said.