SSB increases security in Sikkim, Arunachal after Doklam standoff

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New Delhi, Dec 18 (IANS) India’s border guarding force SSB has increased its deployment on the India-Bhutan border in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, not far from the mountainous terrains of Diban, Dua-Delai and Lohit valleys along the China border in the Tibetan region, following last year’s Doklam standoff.

In the run-up to raising security, the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) established 18 new Border Outposts (BOPs) in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh which have 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 Bhutan border,” SSB Director General Surjeet Singh Deswal told IANS.

Deswal, who was speaking on the sidelines of the 55th raising Day programme of the SSB, however, clarified that his force has nothing to do with the operations along the India-China border. The 18 new BOPs are among those 72 which began functioning this year, he added.

The SSB’s action comes months after the troops of India and China were locked in a 73-day Doklam standoff — the tri-junction of India-Bhutan-China — from June 16, 2017 after the Indian side stopped road construction by China’s People’s Liberation Army in the area. The standoff ended on August 28.

At present, 53 battalions of SSB are deployed on the 699 km Indo-Bhutan and 1,751 km India-Nepal borders as part of its primary task to provide security with establishment and operationalisation of 708 BOPs along the borders of the two countries.

Another SSB official said that 176 operational BOPs are functioning along the India-Bhutan border that runs along the states of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam while 533 are along the India-Nepal border that runs across the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim.

The SSB is deployed along the borders of the two countries and is instrumental in safeguarding and promoting a sense of security among the people living in the border areas and also in preventing trans-border crimes like smuggling, human trafficking and other illegal activities.

Speaking on the occasion, SSB DG said the force has received a substantial expansion in its cadre from the Central government with the sanction of 19 posts of SSB officers — two in the rank of Inspector General, four Deputy Inspector General, two Deputy Commandant and four Assistant Commandant.

This year so far, the DG said the SSB has seized narcotics, fake Indian currency, wildlife and forest product worth more than Rs 260 crore. “The force has also destroyed over 500 acres of illegal poppy cultivation in Bihar and Jharkhand.”

The SSB has apprehended 6,573 persons with large cache of arms and ammunition, which includes high tech weapons and explosives such as AK-56 rifles, LMGs, 5.56 mm rifles, MK II rifles, .22 mm pistols, hand grenades, explosives and live cartridges this year so far, the DG said.

“The SSB has also cracked down on the menace of human trafficking this year and has rescued 782 victims of human trafficking, which includes 426 men and 356 women. A total of 263 human traffickers have also been apprehended under 180 human trafficking cases,” he added.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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