Safety Measures

Faster procurements and sealing of the IB to check cross-border infiltration

Dilip Kumar Mekala

The animosity between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the attack on Uri army base has strongly reflected in the ceasefire violations along the International Border (IB) and the Line of Control (LC). The latest horrific incidents such as mutilation of the body of an Indian Army soldier and the death of Border Security Force (BSF) jawan have only added fuel to the raging fire.

BSF soldiers during their operations along the Indo-Pakistan border

The immediate reaction from the Indian government, as expected, is to give a free hand to the Indian forces deployed along the border to retaliate at Pakistani posts. Furthermore, the defence and home ministries have decided to fast-track the acquisition process to make sure that the soldiers along the border operate with advanced self-defence weapons and night fighting capabilities. The ministry of home affairs (MHA) also pursued its longstanding efforts to seal the International Border (IB) completely. It is estimated that the IB will be completely sealed before December 2018.

Previously, the BSF had admitted that there were enormous challenges in completing the border fence. The physical barrier throughout the IB is not a feasible option as it cuts through varied terrain such as riverine, low-lying, creek and marshy. According to BSF’s estimate, any construction of a physical barrier is impossible along about 181.85 km stretch of the border. To overcome this, the BSF is planning to use advanced technological solutions including cameras, sensors, radars and lasers. “The BSF is testing available technologies through pilot projects in Jammu, Punjab and Gujarat,” informed home minister Rajnath Singh.

The BSF is planning to achieve this mammoth task of sealing the border through its project called Comprehensive Integrated Border Management Solutions (CIBMS) by using modern command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems. CIBMS will be deployed at two different locations in Jammu sector along the IB. In a recent Request for Proposal (RFP) the BSF has claimed that this study project is to evaluate the availability of various integrated solutions for guarding the border. “With new concepts of C4ISR, it is necessary to develop a broad architecture of integrated border management systems in which human resources, weapons and surveillance equipment are seamlessly integrated complementing each other,” the tender mentioned. The CIBMS mechanism, once inducted, will carry out wide range of security and surveillance operations including detection, classification and identification of threat, vulnerability mapping of the border areas, and help the commanders in faster decision making process.

K.K. Sharma, director general, BSF, in a recent review meeting assured the home ministry officials that the pilot project for CIBMS will be implemented expeditiously.

Interestingly, the government is planning to source these technologies from indigenous industry instead of global defence manufacturers. Minister of state for home affairs, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, strongly cautioned against overdependence on imported technologies from countries such as Israel, United States and South Africa. Reiterating the government’s stand, Ahir said that Pakistan is not only non-cooperative in border management but it creates problems. He further added that the government is committed to securing the country’s border by sealing it completely by December 2018.

The BSF has been adopting advanced technology to check infiltration attempts at the Indo-Pakistan and Indo-Bangladesh borders. The BSF has developed its own technical solutions like Farheen Laser walls which are very useful to guard riverine gaps. These Laser walls have been deployed along the Jammu International Border. The thermal sensors like Hand-Held Thermal Imager (HHTI) are already installed along the Indo-Pakistan and Indo-Bangladesh Border. While there is no proposal for installation of anti-tunnel ground sensors in the fenced stretches of the borders, the BSF is considering its possibility. Even with all these developments, there seems to be existing gaps in modernisation, which the BSF is planning to plug in the next two years.

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