Borders sealed, stopping infiltration of Covid-19 carriers our aim now: BSF chief
There were only a few negligible incidents as the frontiers are sealed, according to Surjeet Singh Deswal, who heads the world’s two largest border guarding forces – Border Security Force (BSF) and Indo-Tibet Border Force (ITBP).Updated: Apr 30, 2020 16:38 IST
India’s borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh haven’t witnessed any major illegal activities such as infiltration of terrorists, human trafficking, fake currency or drug smuggling for the past five weeks, according to the head of the BSF and ITBP.
There were only a few negligible incidents as the frontiers are sealed, according to Surjeet Singh Deswal, who heads the world’s two largest border guarding forces – Border Security Force (BSF) and Indo-Tibet Border Force (ITBP).
In an exclusive interaction with HT, the IPS officer of the 1984 batch said: “We have maintained high level of alertness at the borders, which are completely sealed with no movement of any kind.
“Our priority during the lockdown has been to stop infiltration of Coronavirus carriers from across the border, while maintaining tight vigil on other activities.”
Last week, Jammu and Kashmir director general of police Dilbagh Singh had said Pakistan is pushing militants infected with Covid-19 to spread the disease in the Kashmir Valley. Intelligence agencies have pointed out that more than 300 Pakistani terrorists are waiting across the border to sneak into India.
Pakistan resorted to unprovoked firing and shelling along the Line of Control (LoC) for more than a week this month.
Without going into specific incidents over the past month, Deswal said: “All the mischievous acts of Pakistan, be it on the international border or LoC, have been responded to with double impact.”
Similarly, the Bangladesh border has witnessed very few incidents of smuggling or people sneaking across in the past month.
According to the data compiled by BSF, 97 kg of heroin was seized along the Pakistan border in Punjab between January 1 and March 24, while only 17 kg of heroin was seized between March 25 and April 12.
Another BSF officer, who didn’t want to be named, said: “There has been no infiltration of terrorists. A couple of incidents had taken places in Punjab, including when a Pakistani national was stopped from crossing over at Pulmoran in Amritsar on March 25, while another Pakistani was apprehended from Bamer in Ferozepur on March 26. Otherwise, the border is quiet.”
BSF is posted along the 2,289-km international border with Pakistan from Gujarat to Jammu, and it manages 237 km of the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir with the army having operational control over its personnel. It guards the entire 4,092-km border with Bangladesh.
Data on the Bangladesh border compiled by BSF showed that more than 20,000 heads of cattle were smuggled into the neighbouring country from January 1 to March 24. After the Covid-19 lockdown, the number dropped to 300.
The smuggling of heroin, Yaba drugs, gold and silver too has drastically declined since March 25.
Deswal said vigil is maintained along 100% of the India-China border as well.
Referring to Covid-19 infections in BSF and ITBP, Deswal said both forces are now “corona free”, and the few BSF personnel who were infected have recovered.
“We have told all troops and their families to indulge in extra physical exercise, as having a healthy body is the best medicine against Coronavirus,” Deswal said.
He has also partially started calling personnel, who were on extended leave due to the lockdown, back to duty, especially from areas with no cases of Covid-19.
The ITBP is making masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) in bulk for the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which may resume services at the Delhi Metro and airport soon.
Deswal has also directed all his troops deployed at Indian missions in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka to follow safety measures.