June 29, 2012
India has just announced that it will deploy an additional 8,000 troops along its borders with Nepal and Bhutan. The deployment will largely be achieved by July.
The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) guards the 1,751-km Nepal and 699-km Bhutan borders. The SSB (“Armed Border Force”, in English) is one of India's Central Armed Police Forces. It is often referred to as a paramilitary force, although it is not one of the three officially defined paramilitary forces of India. It is currently under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India. It was formerly known as the “Special Service Bureau”.
Yesterday, SSB Director General Pranay Sahay announced, "We will be deploying about eight fresh battalions between both the borders that we guard. The rest will be put in place over the next few months from then." Sahay also said the SSB has begun creating new Border Out Posts (BOPs) at the frontiers. Freshly trained troops will be stationed to man these units and patrol the open border. Sahay has been traveling the border areas to oversee the new work since he took over charge of the about 40,000 personnel strong force in October 2011.
At present, India has 450 BoPs along the Indo-Nepal border and the distance between two BoPs is 4.5 km.
Over the next five years, 89 new BoPs will be created. The aim is to reduce the inter-BoP distance to 3.47-km. In total, the government will raise 36 new battalions. The total strength of the force will then stand at 73 battalions.
Sahay said similar measures are also being undertaken along the Bhutan border with the creation of 50 new BoPs.
The Union Home Ministry has sanctioned new vehicles for the movement of troops in these areas. In addition, the personnel will be equipped with night-vision binoculars and modern tools of telecommunication for better operational capability.
The porous border of Nepal has long needed tightened security. The frontier is prone to the smuggling of fake Indian currency, arms, narcotics and other items. Equally egregious, the border is one of the weakest links in the fight to curb sex trafficking of Nepali girls. Finally, in recent years, it has become apparent that terrorists are using the Nepali border to cross over to India.