‘All borders sealed to keep out infections’Updated: Apr 30, 2020 23:12 IST
New Delhi: There have been no major activities like infiltration of terrorists, human trafficking, cattle, fake currency or drug smuggling along India’s borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh over the last month as they have been completely sealed, the head of Border Security Force (BSF) and Indo-Tibet Border Force (ITBP) said on Thursday.
“Our priority during the [Covid-19] lockdown has been to stop infiltration of coronavirus carriers from across the border while maintaining tight vigil on other activities,” said Surjeet Singh Deswal. “We have maintained a high level of alertness at the borders, which are completely sealed with no movement of any kind.”
Jammu & Kashmir police chief Dilbagh Singh last week accused Pakistan of pushing Covid-19 infected militants to spread the disease in the Union Territory. The intelligence agencies have also alerted the government that about 300 terrorists were waiting to cross over from Pakistan, according to people aware of the matter. Pakistan has also resorted to shelling and firing, which are often used as cover to push in infiltrators into India, along the Line of Control (LoC) or the de facto border between the two countries in Jammu & Kashmir.
Without going into specifics, Deswal said Pakistan’s “mischievous acts” along the international border and the LoC have been responded “with double impact”.
Deswal said a few incidents of smuggling or people crossing from the Bangladesh border have been reported over the last month.
According to the BSF data, over 20,000 cattle were smuggled to Bangladesh from January 1 to March 24. After the lockdown, this number has come down to around 300. Smuggling of heroin, drugs, gold, and silver has drastically reduced since March 25 when the lockdown was imposed.
According to the data, 97 kg of heroin was seized along the India-Pakistan border in Punjab between January 1 and March 24, while only 17 kg heroin was seized from March 25 till April 12.
“There has been no infiltration of terrorists. A couple of incidents had taken place in Punjab when a Pakistani national was stopped from crossing over on March 25 at Pulmoran in Amritsar while another Pakistani was apprehended from Bamer in Ferozepur on March 26. Otherwise, the border is quiet,” said a BSF officer who did not wish to be named.
The BSF is responsible for guarding the 2,289-kms border with Pakistan from Gujarat to Jammu. It also manages 237-km long LoC under the army’s operational control. The BSF guards the entire 4,092 km-long border with Bangladesh.
Deswal said they were maintaining 100% vigil along the India-China border as well. He added the BSF and ITBP are now Covid-19 free and a few cases reported have been cured. “We have told all the troops and their families to undertake extra physical exercise as having a healthy body is the best medicine against the coronavirus,” Deswal said. He added they have begun calling troopers, who have been on extended leave due to Covid-19 lockdown, back to duty from areas that have reported no cases.
He said the ITBP is also making masks and Personal Protection Equipment for the Central Industrial Security Force, which may resume Delhi metro and airport services soon.
Deswal has also briefed the troops deployed at Indian embassies in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka on the safety measures.