M A I N   N E W S

20 battalions to curb influx of Maoists
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
India has decided to strengthen its surveillance on the porous Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders keeping in view the security threat from the conflict between the Nepalese Government and Maoists.

Home Minister Shiv Raj Patil today announced to double the strength of security forces guarding the two frontiers within two years.

Speaking at the 42nd Anniversary Day parade of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), he said the government would beef up security on the Indo-Nepal border.

“Apart from the work they are already doing, the number of posts could be increased, patrolling could be increased and they could serve any of our other needs,” he said.

The minister said the budget outlay of the SSB had been increased by over 47 per cent, from Rs 360.49 crore in 2004-05 to Rs 532.77 crore this fiscal.

“I am happy to announce that the Cabinet has approved the raising of additional 20 battalions, two sectors and one frontier headquarters for the SSB,” he said while addressing the jawans.

At present, the SSB has 25 battalions, each comprising 1,000 personnel.

The SSB had requested the government for 20 more battalions for more effective patrolling of the 1,751 km-long Indo-Nepal and 661-km-long Indo-Bhutan border.

The entry of Nepalese Maoists into India has gone up sharply since the royal takeover of April 1 and the activity of Pakistani agents in border areas has also increased, according to SSB officials.

While movement across the Indo-Bhutan border has declined after the Royal Bhutan Army destroyed a large number of training camps established by Indian militant outfits in its territory, intelligence reports suggest that ultras are again trying to re-establish them.

Mr Patil also announced a grant of Rs 1 crore to the welfare fund of the SSB.

He said the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders are very open as these countries enjoy age-old friendly ties with peoples from either side moving freely across the border.

“For long, the unmanned borders have presented opportunity to forces inimical to the country’s interest to further their nefarious designs through subversion, militant and fundamentalist activities. The manning of these borders by the SSB has put an effective check on such activities,” he said.

The SSB took charge of guarding the Indo-Nepal border in June 2001 and the frontier with Bhutan in March last year.

The Home Minister said the SSB’s deployment on the Indo-Bhutan border was at present “very thin but with the likely addition of 20 more battalions in the next two years, this gap will be effectively plugged.”

At present, there are only five battalions on the Indo-Bhutan border, three of whom are for the protection of vehicle convoys to Bhutan which pass through Indian territory.

When asked about the forces’ suggestion that displaying some identification document be made mandatory to cross the Indo-Nepal border, Mr Patil said, “It is an issue between both sides. We will study it as situation demands and what needs to be done will be done.”

He also underlined the need for more check-posts along both frontiers.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |