SSB women officers to guard border, men to combat Maoists

March 24th, 2008 - 9:27 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)

New Delhi, March 24 (IANS) India’s paramilitary Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), responsible for guarding the borders with Bhutan and Nepal, is raising seven companies of women constabulary to check people crossing the open frontiers. “We are training seven companies of women officers at the head constable level. They would be not be deployed at the border outposts (BPOs) but would be frisking and checking suspected people crossing the porous India-Nepal border,” SSB Director General Gopal Sharma said Monday at the force’s annual press conference here.

Sharma said the force was on high alert and coordinating with state police forces and its counterparts in Bhutan and Nepal as both were in the election process.

Elections were held in Bhutan Monday, while Nepal goes to polls next month.

“We would also recruit women officers at senior levels in due course, but at present these seven companies would be led by senior male officers,” Sharma added.

The force of 56,000 strong personnel looks after 650 border outposts, of which 364 are along the Nepal border and the rest are along that with Bhutan.

He said the force was also facing new challenges and was joining in counter-insurgency operations in the Maoists-affected state of Chhattisgarh.

“We have already sent one battalion in Chhattisgarh and the other would be joining them soon. We would also be providing protection to the activists of Salwa Judum against Maoists in the state following the recent incidents of violence,” he told reporters.

Salwa Judum is a controversial anti-Naxalite (Maoist) civil militia, formed in 2005 by the government and armed by them, to wrest the area controlled by Naxalites.

The SSB last year managed to seize contraband worth Rs.867 million, narcotics worth Rs.110 million and 2.715 kg of explosives in borders areas, while it arrested 166 people for smuggling drugs and carrying explosives and other anti-nationals activities.

The force also seized 211 detonators.

The SSB has demanded that carrying an identity card should be made obligatory for people moving to and from India and Nepal as well as India and Bhutan to check anti-national elements and activities.

“This will help in building a data bank of people crossing the borders. We are also preparing a “border management doctrine” to create secure and friendly borders with both it’s neighbours,” he said.

The top official said the force was undergoing thorough massive modernisation and all its BPOs would be connected through a satellite in future.

This upgraded state-of-the-art system includes video conferencing, remote sensing surveillance systems, satellite phones and computerization of the posts.

The central paramilitary force, which was set up in 1963 as a Special Service Bureau after the India-China conflict, currently guards a stretch of 1,751 kilometres along the India-Nepal border and 699 kilometres along the India-Bhutan border.

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