On its 52nd anniversary, ITBP looks back at an eventful year
Dilip Kumar Mekala
On October 24, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) celebrated its 52nd anniversary with a ceremonial parade at the Tigri campus, New Delhi. Looking back at the past year, ITBP can’t seem to deny that this has been the most challenging year for their personnel. Starting with the incursions of the Chinese Army at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in April, which led to the face-off between the Chinese and the Indian forces at the border, to the Uttarakhand flood rescue efforts, considered the biggest ever operation till date, the ITBP faced tough challenges this year. This was again followed by more incursions from the Chinese Army in the subsequent months.
But the good news is that the ITBP is getting a major push from the government to develop its infrastrusture both at the border and its various headquarters in the mainland. Speaking at the Raising Day parade, chief guest R.P.N. Singh, minister of state (Home) said that the government has sanctioned Rs 1,260 crore for construction on the ITBP locations. It includes accommodation for jawans, construction of forward locations and other operational and administrative buildings and structures. He also said that measuring eco-friendly stride towards energy requirement, a total of 69 forward ITBP posts would soon have three to 10 KVA solar power plants which will facilitate uninterrupted power supply for various needs.
To enhance professional and operational efficiency, special emphasis is apparently being given on upgradation and induction of latest technologies, e-governance, modern weaponry and communication & surveillance equipment on the border. In the current financial year (2013-14), one sector Head Quarter and five Battallions were raised by the Force. The ITBP also acquired land at Alwar (Rajasthan), some areas of Kerala, Bhopal (MP), Katihar and Patna (Bihar) for establishing its new formations.
Speaking at the Raising Day parade, Mahboob Alam, Director General (DG), ITBP, highlighted the achievements of the force in the rescue and relief operations in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh from June 16 this year where heavy rains and cloudbursts left a long trail of devastation, mainly in Uttarakhand. The devastation was huge as thousands lost their lives and an equally huge number of pilgrims, tourists and locals were stranded.
Innummerable buildings either collapsed or were washed away, rendering thousands of people homeless. Roads were wiped out, leaving no scope for vehicular movement. Under such circumstances, it was the ITBP, deployed in Uttarakhand, who were the first ones to reach out and rescue more than 33,000 stranded people. It also provided food, water, medical facilities and shelter to more than 10,000 people during the relief operation. During the whole process, the ITBP lost 15 of its men, who were remembered on the Raising Day.
The parade saw the participation from the Columns of Eastern, Northern, North-west and Central frontier along with Mounted column, Band platoon and Mahila contingents. The parade was followed by the investiture ceremony where Singh conferred the Police medal for gallantry, the President police medal for distinguished service and the Police medal for meritorious service to ITBP officials.
Deployed in the high altitude regions of the Himalayas, the ITBP personnel face the most extreme working conditions among all the paramilitary forces. With the minimum temperature at these high altitudes ranging from around from -45 degrees, the troops are extremely suceptible to various health hazards. R.P.N. Singh stated that the government is trying to offer all possible measures to make the functioning of the Force more humane. The government has recently given the ITBP more tasks in the mainland such as guarding duties, anti-naxal operations in Chhattisgarh, so on and so forth.
Apart from border guarding operations, ITBP also performs duties of preventing trans-border crimes, smuggling, unauthorised entry and exit from India and other illegal activities in its area of responsibility. It also guards sensitive buildings like the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Vice President’s house and the Parliament House in New Delhi. The ITBP also provides security and escort to traders from Nathu La to Sherathang and back for border trade. The Force also undertakes operations in the Chhattisgarh red-corridor along with various other paramilitary forces.