M A I N   N E W S

ITBP stands tall in icy Ladakh peaks
Ajay Banerjee in Leh

With almost 49 years of experience in high-altitude security duties in the Himalayas facing the Chinese frontier, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) is now carving a niche for itself in the Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir. Strategically, the force is shouldering border security responsibilities on the pattern of the Army, which is also deployed along these icy heights.

The ITBP, with four battalions (around 4,800 personnel), keeps a vigil on 27 border outposts in the inhospitable terrain in Ladakh and in areas that entail mountain climbing on daily basis, besides patrolling vast stretches on barren mountains.

After P Chidamabaram took over as the Union Home Minister in November 2008, his focus was to improve capabilities of paramilitary forces and the efforts are showing results now. As part of its modernisation plan, the force is now getting thermal imagers and long-range observation system, better-known as LORROS, besides night-vision devices and periscopes.

Ladakh sector DIG Jaspal Singh says, “We are happy with the modernisation plan and the items we are getting.” The force has INSAS rifles (same as the Army) as standard issue to the troops. Medium machine guns, sniper rifles, 55 mm and 81 mm mortars form other equipment. All men are trained to fight during the night.

A team of journalists recently got a chance to witness a demonstration in the dead of the night. As in real-time close quarter infantry battles, flares light up the sky to pinpoint mock “enemy locations” while troops stationed at specific locations drilled in bullets from MMGs and INSAS at the targets.

The high-altitude medical training school (HAMTS), Leh, established to keep the force fighting fit, is now two-year-old. This is used to train doctors and paramedics in diagnosis and management of high altitude-related ailments, says its in charge Dr Anjana Chaudhary.

The trainees are taught on dummies while jawans at each post are trained to use oxygen pressurised portable bags that can be used to ferry ailing colleagues down to a helipad for onwards transportation.



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