Army takes charge of guarding NE borders
GUWAHATI, 27th Dec: Army’s Eastern Command headquarters have taken over guarding of the India-Myanmar border skirting four north-eastern states, which is treacherous, porous and has been offering a freeway to terrorists, arms and drugs smugglers and human traffickers.
The command headquarters is now pumping in more troops of Assam Rifles and taking them closer to the border. The Assam Rifles is the only force on the eastern side of the country but until now they have been deployed near the border close to human settlements far away from the border and not at the border like other border guarding forces deployed in India's other frontiers.
Defence PRO Col C Konwer said, "As part of the process of strengthening the Indo-Myanmar border, Assam Rifles has taken a number of steps to increase its presence in the remote border areas of northeast. Assam Rifles is now in the process of occupying number of additional locations all along the Indo-Myanmar border. The Army through Eastern Command is responsible for the operations in the northeast and coordinates the operations of Assam Rifles along this border."
A source said that this step would take some time to be in place. "It would need lot of infrastructure to be built for the troops to man the border on site. The border is completely porous and government should go for fencing at selective locations, which would ease work for the troops deployed."
The Defence PRO also agreed that "This unfenced border along very challenging terrain presents a huge challenge for the armed forces guarding it. The new move, which has recently commenced aims at keeping a strict curb on illegal trans-border activities like smuggling of drugs, weapons and contraband items as also keep a check on un-authorised crossing of civilians in the border areas."
Assam Rifles, though administered by ministry of home affairs, its operations are controlled by Army. The force has been handling a dual role of counter-insurgency operations in the north-eastern states and also keeping an eye on the international border with Myanmar but the gaping holes remained as Indian militants enjoyed a free run from their bases in Myanmar to Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal and Manipur to carry out their terror acts.
Guarding of the open 1643-km long border shared by Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram has for long been a bone of contention between ministry of defence and ministry of home affairs over who would do the job. While MHA wanted the border be handed over to either ITBP or the BSF, the Army's stand has been in favour of Assam Rifles. For the Army, having a purely border guarding force like ITBP or BSF on the border and the Assam Rifles, which operates in Army style, behind handling counter-insurgency would cause terrible operational coordination problems.
A parliamentary standing committee on "Border Security: Capacity Building and Institutions" presented in Rajya Sabha last March has noted that "the gaps in the deployment (along Indo-Myanmar border) are wide and are prone to be exploited by the insurgents to carry out sabotage activities against the country and its security forces"
Centre had initiated a work of fencing of about 10 km of the border at Moreh in Manipur in 2010 but the work was then stopped due to agitation by local population three years later.