The NDA government’s one-border one-force principle meant that jawans of the Indo Tibetan Border Force spent their working lives posted at Himalayan heights. The Cabinet Committee on Security’s decision to nearly double their strength on Thursday practically tosses this principle out of the window.
Union home secretary VK Duggal on Friday said nearly 21,000 personnel to be recruited into the ITBP over the next three years would not lead to increase in the deployment of the force along the border.
The additional personnel to be recruited would instead be deployed in the plains, on static duties and counter-insurgency operations. Duties that they had been pulled out in line with the NDA government’s policy to make one para-military force responsible for one task only to ensure there were no problems in coordination and responsibility.
The CRPF was tasked to handle counter-insurgency operations, the BSF for manning the border with Pakistan and Bangladesh and the SSB for the Indo-Nepal border.
For ITBP jawans, this implied that they spent nearly 27 years of the normal working life of 35 years at posts higher than 9,000 feet. The policy played havoc with their bodies. Nearly six per cent of ITBP jawans are bracketed in the “low medical category”, the highest ratio of personnel in poor health among all security forces.
Home ministry officials said management of the additional battalions was in the vicinity of Rs 1,690 crore over the next three years. The force currently has 25 battalions, manning the 3,488 kilometres of the Indo-China border from the Karakoram pass in Ladakh to Diphu La in Arunachal Pradesh. The Cabinet Committee on Security's decision will raise their strength to 45 battalions.