M A I N   N E W S

‘Sons of soil’ to guard China border in Sikkim
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 7
India’s policy of integrating local soldiers or “sons of the soil” with the Indian Army in guarding the frontier with China will now be extended to Sikkim. This will complete an arch of locally recruited battalions to be integrated with the Army and stationed from Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir in the North to Arunachal Pradesh in the East.

The Cabinet Committee of Security, at a meeting last night, gave its nod to raising a battalion of “Sikkim Scouts” that will be tasked with guarding high passes and portions of the north-eastern part of Sikkim, besides keeping an eye on the routes of ingress.

Safeguarding Frontier

* Cabinet nod to raising a battalion of ‘Sikkim Scouts’

* Will guard high passes, portions of north-eastern Sikkim

* Will comprise 28 officers, 44 Junior Commissioned Officers and 862 jawans

* Will be raised by mid of 2015 

Initially, 28 officers, 44 Junior Commissioned Officers and 862 jawans will form the battalion. The raising of the battalion will cost the government Rs 32. 50 crore, while the annual recurring cost will be Rs 34.45 crore. The battalion will be ready and raised in 30 months i.e. mid of 2015.

It will take time to recruit and train boys from Sikkim to form the battalion of “sons of the soil”, said sources.

The Chief Minister of Sikkim had asked the Defence Ministry to raise a battalion for Sikkim, as other Himalayan states already had battalions from their respective areas.

The Army has integrated battalions of locally recruited soldiers under “Ladakh Scouts” and “Arunachal Scouts” (two battalions each), “Kumaon Scouts”, “Garhwal Scouts” and “Dogra Scouts” (one battalion each). Battalions comprising locally recruited soldiers hold a strategic advantage. The local recruits have instinctive knowledge of their mountainous terrain, do not require skills training to survive in harsh climatic conditions and can gather information from local population easily.

Over 350 infantry battalions are stationed all over the country and are moved every few years to keep them abreast with different terrains and threat levels.

“Arunachal Scouts” was the last one to be raised. General JJ Singh (retd) had proposed it during his tenure as Army Chief and the Cabinet approved it in 2009. Its first battalion was raised in 2010. The second one was approved later.





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