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India tightens vigil along Bhutan border

Ten battalions of frontier guards will now man the 699-km unfenced border between the two countries.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2006 13:19 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

India will step up security along its unfenced border with Bhutan to prevent guerrilla movement from its restive northeast region into that country, a government official said Wednesday.

Ten battalions (10,000 personnel) of frontier guards will now man the 699-km unfenced border between the two countries instead of the existing five, said an Indian home ministry official.

"The number of battalions to be deployed along the Bhutan border would be increased to 12 by next year to prevent cross-border movement of militants," the official, who wished to stay anonymous, told by telephone from New Delhi.

The decision to step up vigil along the Bhutan border follows intelligence inputs that guerrillas from India's north-eastern state of Assam were planning to set up bases in the predominantly Buddhist nation.

"The number of border posts is also being increased from 32 to 135 to make our security presence visible in the area," the official added.

The Bhutanese military launched an eviction drive in December 2003, smashing up to 30 rebel camps, and claimed to have ousted three influential Indian militant groups from their territory.

The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), both from Assam, and the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) of West Bengal were operating out of well-entrenched bases inside Bhutan to carry out their hit-and-run guerrilla strikes on federal soldiers for close to a decade.

However, Bhutan maintains that no Indian rebel groups have a base in their territory.

"We need to be vigilant as army operations are now on in Assam against the ULFA and the rebels might once again try to take shelter in Bhutan. Hence, the stepped up security," the home ministry official said.

First Published: Sep 27, 2006 12:50 IST