Kolkata: Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday announced a slew of measures to augment India-Bangladesh border patrolling after a meeting in Kolkata with the chief ministers of states bordering Bangladesh.
The centre is leaning on the states to improve surveillance and will create a mechanism to involve the regional agencies for border patrolling. Border Security Force (BSF), a central agency, currently guards the 4,096-km border under India’s one-border-one-force policy.
Singh announced on Thursday that a Border Protection Grid (BPG) will be created with representatives of BSF, state and central intelligence agencies and the state police to oversee border patrolling with the aim of “curbing illegitimate cross-border movement and smuggling”.
The India-Bangladesh border along five states. Of the total length of 4,096km, 1,090km do not have any fencing, the government said in a press note, adding that “fencing and related infrastructure” will be installed for 684km. The rest—406km—will be under surveillance of cameras and radars. “The areas to be covered by non-physical barriers are those where fencing is not feasible,” said the press note.
Difficulties with land acquisition had hobbled setting up border outposts, Singh said, while requesting the chief ministers to take “personal interest to expedite land acquisition in the interest of national security”.
Security experts welcomed the move. BSF, founded in 1965, is an evolved agency but it still has a lot of deficiencies, said one of them, asking not to be identified. “Clearly, the BSF needs more boots on the ground,” he said. “At the same time, close co-ordination with state agencies will make it more efficient.”
BSF needs to work closely with intelligence agencies to curb smuggling, said an officer of a central intelligence agency. For instance, when fake currency smuggling was at its peak, BSF in West Bengal would often seek the assistance of the central intelligence branch to deal with the menace, this person said, asking not to be identified. It would help if the BSF and the intelligence agencies, including the state police, started to exchange notes under a formal arrangement, this person added.
BPG is intended to be a “multi-pronged and foolproof mechanism to secure our border”, the government said in the press note. For the mechanism to materialize and act as an effective deterrent, Singh asked for “active participation” of the state governments.
Alongside, the Union home minister stressed on the need to improve civic infrastructure in border areas, such as road and railway connectivity, to boost border economy in a “holistic manner”, while seeking participation from the states as well to supplement central initiatives.