Why India needs a single agency to guard its borders

News: The unending threats to Indian borders and recent developments call for a comprehensive review of border management to ensure the all-weather security.

What are the current developments in border areas?

One, China is trying to take over territory. For example, Doklam and Galwan crisis. The recent China’s Land Border Law (LBL) will enhance its aggressive posture and it is aimed at resolving border disputes on its own terms.

Two, the continued Pakistan-backed infiltration of terrorists poses fresh challenges to India.

Three, China has planned to build 628 “Xiaokang model border defence villages” along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). It aims to consolidate Chinese claims over disputed areas and gain local support.  Also, villages have already come up in the disputed area across Arunachal Pradesh.

Why India needs a single agency to guard its borders?

 One, most of the border areas are disputed and not clearly demarcated. India shares land borders with six countries which stretch approximately 15,106 km.

India shares approximately 3,323 km-long LoC with Pakistan, which further extends to “Actual Ground Position Line” (AGPL) dividing the Siachen glacier region. In east, India has the 3,488 km LAC with China.

Two, India has long maritime border with Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and Indonesia.

Three, the complexity at border is increased due to the involvement of four agencies with six neighbours unlike maritime borders which is guarded by the Coast Guard.

For example, the army is deployed along the LoC and AGPL, the Border Security Force (BSF) looks after the international border with Pakistan and Bangladesh. LAC security is assigned to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Assam Rifles.

On the other hand, most countries have specialised and dedicated armed bodies for border security. For example, China has People’s Armed Police and Pakistan has a Frontier Corps for its western border and the Rangers looking after the Indo-Pak Border.

Four, in India there is a lack of a coherent policy on training, planning and the conduct of guarding operations. Hence there is lack of coordination.

Five, the peace-time scenario is now militarized and the modus operandi of neighbours have undergone a qualitative change. For example, sub-unit tactics such as sniping, launching raids and surprise attack on the Loc/international border.

What is the way forward?

First, India needs a single security agency which is better equipped, armed and trained in advanced military drills and sub-unit tactics.

Second, there is need of merging the resources of the CAPF and Assam Rifles to have adequate manpower and resources. A fixed percentage of manpower should be drawn on deputation from the army to enhance efficiency.

Third, the single security agency should have explicit mandate to retaliate against cross-border transgressions and stabilise the situation till the operations are taken over by the armed forces.

It should be designated as a paramilitary force under the Ministry of Defence and operate under the army.

Fourth, to create an efficient force, the ITBP and the SSB should be fully merged into the new outfit.

Source: This post is based on the article “Why India needs a single agency to guard its borders” published in Indian Express on 22nd Jan 2022.

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