The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) has increased its strength along the India-Bhutan border in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, not far from the mountainous terrain of Diban, Dua-Delai and Lohit valleys along the China border in the Tibetan region, following last year’s Doklam standoff.
In the past one year, the country’s youngest paramilitary force created 18 new Border Outposts (BOPs) in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, which started functioning this year.
“Three new BOPs in Sikkim and 15 in Arunachal Pradesh were established and they have started functioning this year to provide better security and patrolling in the areas bordering Bhutan. The three new BOPs are in Western Sikkim, which touches the Bhutan border,” SSB Director General Surjeet Singh Deswal said on Tuesday.
Deswal, however, clarified that his force had nothing to do with the operations along the India-China border.
The 18 new BOPs are among the 72 which began functioning this year, he added.
Indian and Chinese soldiers were locked in a 73-day standoff at Doklam in the Sikkim section of the India-China border over the building of a road by the Chinese military in an area claimed by Bhutan.
The crisis was resolved on August 28. At present, 53 battalions of the SSB are deployed on the 699-km Indo-Bhutan border and the 1,751-km India-Nepal border as part of its primary task of providing security with the establishment and operationalisation of 708 BOPs along the borders of the two countries.
Another senior SSB official said that 176 BOPs were functioning along the India-Bhutan border, which runs along the states of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam, while 533 are along the India-Nepal border, which runs across the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim.
The SSB is deployed along the borders India shares with Bhutan and Nepal and the force is instrumental in preventing trans-border crimes like smuggling, human trafficking and other illegal activities.The DG stressed that construction of roads to connect the border posts was “top priority” of all the government organisations involved in this task. He said the force, raised after the 1962 Chinese aggression, was mulling using ‘laser fence’ technology to plug loopholes along the borders of Nepal and Bhutan.