'BSF to guard India-Myanmar border'

Nongkrem (Meghalaya), Sep 29 (IANS) Outgoing Assam Rifles chief Lt. Gen. K.S. Yadava Tuesday said that the central government plans to move in the Border Security Force (BSF) to the northeast to guard the unfenced India-Myanmar border.

He said the Assam Rifles would continue its counter-insurgency operation in states bordering Myanmar.

Yadava said the central government was in the process of raising 26 additional BSF battalions.

'The new BSF battalions would be posted at the India-Myanmar border. These would look into infiltration, smuggling and other border-related issues,' Yadava told journalists at the Assam Rifles headquarters here.

At present, the Assam Rifles is burdened with the twin responsibility of guarding the treacherous India-Myanmar border and also conducting counter-insurgency operations in Manipur and Nagaland, he said.

There has always been a school of thought that the Assam Rifles, the oldest paramilitary force in the country, should be relieved of its border guarding responsibilities and allowed to concentrate solely on counter-insurgency operations, he said.

However, the home ministry's 'one border, one force' policy always came in the way to facilitate such a policy shift, he said.

As of now, the ministry has mandated the BSF to guard the India- Bangladesh border in the region. The Assam Rifles is tasked with guarding the India-Myanmar border and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police is responsible for guarding the India-China border. The Sashastra Seema Bal guards the India-Bhutan border.

Yadava, who would hang up his boots Sep 30, said the decision to raise 26 additional Assam Rifles battalions has been kept in abeyance by the central government. 'There are some problems in raising the additional 26 Assam Rifles battalions,' Yadava said without elaborating.

Instead, the oldest paramilitary has raised a new field intelligence unit to boost its intelligence gathering along the India-Myanmar border. The unit consists of 200 officers from the force.

Yadava said the BSF recently inspected the border area to finalise plans to post its men there. The officers went on a familiarisation mission to these areas.

India shares a 1,643-km long unfenced border with Myanmar. The porous border with its rugged terrain is used by Indian insurgent groups to slip in and out of the country. Forest and animal products are also smuggled through this route in and out of India.