The ministry of home affairs is considering the creation of a 29-battalion India-Myanmar Border Force from the corps of the Assam Rifles and the Indo-Tibetan Border Force to patrol India’s 1,643-km long mountainous border with Myanmar to curtail drugs and arms smuggling and also crimp the activities of Manipuri and Naga insurgents who take advantage of the porous border.
The new force will patrol right up to the border. Currently, the 46-battalion strong Assam Rifles safeguards this border but patrols up to 500 meters from the so-called zero line, which leaves the border partly porous.
According to the proposal, seen by the Hindustan Times, 25 battalions of Assam Rifles will be paired with 4 battalions from ITBP to form the new force. The ITBP will be in charge.
This will ensure that ITBP not only patrols the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control with China but also the border with Myanmar. “The proposal will be put up before the Union Cabinet after due diligence and obtaining the views of the forces guarding the Indian borders,” said a senior Home Ministry official, who asked not to be identified.
The ITBP is keen to man the border with Mynamar, but the Indian Army isn’t too keen on the plan, especially given its umbilical connection with Assam Rifles. The latter is a para-military force headed by a serving Indian Army officer of the rank of Lieutenant General, and a large number of its personnel, including officers, come from the military.
The Indian Army is of the opinion that ITBP should give up patrolling on the LAC and concentrate only on the Myanmar border.
The other option that Army has offered is that the ITBP give up its patrolling in Eastern Ladakh sector in favour of military if it wants control of the Myanmar border.
The government is unlikely to be happy with either plan. It is keen on a para-military force as the first line of defence on the LAC and there is no question of entire ITBP being moved to the Myanmar border as the force was trained for high altitude patrolling and warfare. (Agencies/ Hindustan Times)