Three years after several battalions of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police were recalled from areas in Chamba district bordering Jammu and Kashmir, the Himachal government asked the Centre to make clear the threat perception and allow it to withdraw its police personnel stationed in the sensitive region.
In 2012, the home ministry had communicated its decision to the state to recall ITBP forces while the state’s intelligence and security agencies had expressed their apprehension over covert and overt threats from militant groups that were once active but had become dormant for some time. Himachal’s Chamba district shares a 224-km boundary with terrorist infested Doda and Kishtwar districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Of late we also corresponded with the home ministry about the threat perception in areas of Chamba district bordering Jammu and Kashmir,” director general of police Sanjay Kumar told this reporter. While recalling the ITBP battalion manning the border areas, the home ministry had maintained that there had been no incident of terrorist attacks in district since the past 14 years.
Security along the tranquil border had been of little concern till 1998 when militants allegedly trained by Pakistan trained massacred 35 labourers in two separate incidents in Satrundi and Kalaban in the district. This was the time when the state realised the urgency of deploying paramilitary forces to man border areas. It then decided to seal the areas and sought central assistance for securing its borders with J-K.
“We have told the home ministry if there was no terrorist threat along the border then it should allow us to withdraw the state police and, in case the threat perception continues, then the ITBP should be redeployed in the border areas,’ Kumar said. After the withdrawal of the ITPB battalions the Himachal police had deployed the first Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) to man the 64 km stretch of the border in Chamba district.
There are currently 24 posts along the border, of which most were guarded by the Himachal police's IRB. The police have proposed to reduce the numbers of posts from 24 to 12.