DG, BSF’s last media interaction
Dilip Kumar Mekala
In an attempt to clamp down on illegal migration from Bangladesh, Border Security Force (BSF) stepped up its vigil in the eastern theatre. Addressing the annual press conference days ahead of his retirement, director general of the country’s premier border guarding force, Uthan Kumar Bansal expressed his satisfaction on their new initiatives. Apparently they had identified around 32 areas from where the maximum immigration took place, and stepped up their vigil in that region. “So far 32 border outpost (BOP) areas have been identified as grade-I for illegal migration and at the moment we are focusing on these areas,” said Bansal.
The issue of illegal migration was constantly raised in the wake of the conflict situation in lower Assam. “We increased our focus on the illegal immigration after the unfortunate incidents in Assam,” he said. “We also seek the cooperation of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB). Together, we are able to arrive at an agreed list of places which are sensitive for BSF and BGB, and we decided to concentrate our resources in those areas,” he added.
According to BSF, vulnerable mapping of 182 BOPs in the eastern theatre was completed from the angle of illegal migration, human trafficking, Phensedyl smuggling, fake Indian currency notes (FICN) smuggling and cattle smuggling. Some 117 vulnerable patches were identified jointly by BSF and BGB for simultaneous coordinated patrol (SCP). “We are fairly satisfied with the arrangement we have enforced against illegal immigration,” he reiterated.
Talking about the western theatre, Bansal said that the security along the Indo-Pak border was tightened after the execution of Ajmal Kasab, who was convicted in the Mumbai attacks on 26 November 2008. “We did issue a direction that we should have maximum vigil on the (Indo-Pak) border. Though we do not have any accurate information of any possible attempts, we increased the vigilance along Jammu and the Punjab regions,” he said. The security along the border was significantly increased after Taliban threatened to strike the holy cities of Amritsar and Hyderabad.
The western border had witnessed more incidents of ceasefire violations this year. “It is true that the ceasefire violations are more frequent this year…. We suspect that it is one of their (Pakistan’s) attempts to keep the conflict alive,” said Bansal. Towards the lower part of the Jammu sector, around Akhnur area, about 10 kilometres of the border area which is treated as the International Border by the Indian side, Pakistan calls it the ‘Working boundary’. Referring to this, DG BSF said that the increase in crossborder firing may be to keep this area as a conflicted zone.
When asked about the tunnel that was found in the western sector, he replied, “It was very clear that the tunnel was originated from one of the Pakistan’s posts. And it entered into the Indian territory under the fence.” He also added, “We are happy that the tunnel was not in use. We were able to discover the tunnel long before it became operational.” In order to prevent any such incidents at a later stage, BSF apparently increased the surveillance in the western theatre. “Geological Survey of India (GSI) scientists were contacted to see if there is any system that can be implemented to detect any other such tunnels. Satellite imagery and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are also being used in the sensitive areas.”
Bansal also said that the BSF had introduced the use of non-lethal weapons to minimise casualty in eastern theatre especially in the areas prone to petty smuggling. “We have equipped our manpower with all types of non-lethal weaponry along the Bangladesh border. We also asked our tear-gas production unit at Tekanpur to produce all kinds of non-lethal ammunition and we started using them in the eastern theatre,” said Bansal.