By Sangeeta Saxena & Brig. VK Atray
New Delhi. 13 October 2016. More than a month and the volatile situation between two never in love neighbours seems to have made India sit up and take a look into its porous borders to ensure that Pak sponsored terrorists find it difficult to operate in the tough terrains. There is a drastic need for faster implementation of border infrastructure projects.
Recently when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired a meeting of Chief Ministers/ Home Ministers of Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir for sealing of Indo-Pak border in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan and sought active participation of the States to secure the International Border with Pakistan by putting physical and non- physical barriers, it conveyed that India meant business.
The India and Pakistan Border, known locally as the International Border (IB), is an international border running between India and Pakistan that demarcates the Indian states and the provinces of Pakistan. The border runs from the Line of Control (LoC), which separates the state of Jammu & Kashmir from Pakistan controlled Kashmir, in the north, to Wagah, which partitioned the Indian Punjab state and Punjab Province of Pakistan, in the east. The Zero Point separates the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan to Sindh province of Pakistan, in the south.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Border Security Force and participating States need to also have effective monitoring, intelligence sharing and inter-agency cooperation in view of the prevailing security scenario in the country.
Police Modernization, security in the hinterland and the peculiar problems due to sparsely populated desert area with shifting sand dunes are issues which need to be very seriously looked into . With the announcement that the Jaisalmer border will be completely sealed an Integrated Check Post should also be established at Munnabao.
Drafted and created based upon the Radcliffe line in 1947, the border, which separates Pakistan and India from each other, traverses a variety of terrains ranging from major urban areas to inhospitable deserts. From the Arabian sea, the naval border follows the course of Manora Island of Pakistan to the course of the Mumbai Harbour, in the South east. Since Partition in 1947 the border has been one of the most complex borders in the world. It can be seen from space at night due to the 150,000 flood lights installed by India on about 50 thousand poles.
In the marshy areas of the Rann of Kutch, where fencing is not possible, there is a need for improvement in the construction of roads and use of technology for surveillance. UAVs, UCAVs and ISR specific military transport aircraft should be stationed to manage the sealing of the border.
But it will not be as simple as it sounds for it is important to draw attention to the problems of farmers having land across the border and the problems created by the smuggling of arms and drugs from Pakistan, majorly in the state of Punjab .
Border state polices, Border Security Force and shortage of Bullet Proof (BP) jackets and also consider procuring lighter BP jackets. Armouring of patrol vehicles will also be needed. Also a major concern is shortage of drinking water facility at some of the Border Out Posts and providing piped water supply to all the BOPs should be top priority.
Damaged border fence at some places will need to be urgently repaired and it should be periodically reviewed and repaired. Floodlighting and a parallel road along the border fencing will also be needed to be complete to facilitate effective border patrolling. Many of the BOPs do not have proper telephone facility, and so mobile connectivity will need to be improved with the sanction of more mobile towers close to the borders and in the meantime more satellite phones will also need to be provided at the BOPs. BSF proposed constructing safety walls and ring bunds on the periphery of the Battalion HQs and BOPs and the issue of camouflage uniform being uncomfortable in the hot temperature for the BSF troopers at the BOPs.
But the most volatile and talked about border with Pakistan is the Line of Control (LoC) which refers to the military control line between the Indian and Pakistani controlled parts of the state of Jammu & Kashmir—a line which, to this day, does not constitute a legally recognized international boundary but is the de facto border. Originally known as the Cease-fire Line, it was re-designated as the “Line of Control” following the Simla Agreement, which was signed on 3 July 1972. The two parts of the former princely state that are under Pakistani control are known as Gilgit–Baltistan and Azad Kashmir (AJK). Its northernmost point is known as the NJ9842.
Line of Control fencing is a 550 km (340 mi) barrier along the 740 km (460 mi) The fence, constructed by India, generally remains about 150 yards on the Indian-controlled side. Its stated purpose is to exclude arms smuggling and infiltration by Pakistani-based separatist militants.The barrier itself consists of double-row of fencing and concertina wire eight to twelve feet (2.4–3.7 m) in height, and is electrified and connected to a network of motion sensors, thermal imaging devices, lighting systems and alarms. They act as “fast alert signals” to the Indian troops who can be alerted and ambush the infiltrators trying to sneak in. The small stretch of land between the rows of fencing is mined with thousands of landmines.
The construction of the barrier began in the 1990s, but slowed in the early 2000s as hostilities between India and Pakistan increased. After a November 2003 ceasefire agreement, building resumed and was completed in late 2004. LoC fencing was completed in Kashmir Valley and Jammu region on 30 September 2004. The fence has reduced the numbers of militants who routinely cross into the India to attack soldiers by 80%. But not all physical features between India-Pakistan can be fenced and hence leaves a lot in sealing to be desired and also an open playfield and easy entry for terrorists from across.
Laser walls have been made operational along the India-Pakistan international border in Punjab to plug the porous riverine and treacherous terrain and keep an effective vigil against intruders and terrorists exploiting the frontier areas to cross over. These are monitored by BSF.
Additional battalions and manpower will also be the need of the hour and the force enhancement should also be a priority for the various agencies along the IB & LOC.
The other not so friendly neighbour China has reacted strongly on India’s move to completely seal its border with Pakistan . “India is making a very irrational decision, since no exhaustive investigation has been conducted after the Uri incident , and no evidence proves Pakistan is behind the attack,” the Global Times quoted Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow from the official think-tank Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy, as saying. No statement has come from the Chinese Premier who is now in Goa for the BRICS Summit. China can put a “technical hold” in the UN on a ban on Masood Azhar, the head of Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Muhammad and also support Pakistan’s rhetoric on not having a fully sealed border with India, means very clearly it supports terrorism.
Also it is India’s decision and China has no right to be the regional big brother in the Indo-Pak relations. There are world monitors who keep a watchful eye without biases and India’s border decisions have been appreciated by them.
Out of 2289.66 km of Indo-Pakistan Border (IPB), 2034.96 km has been covered by physical barriers including fencing and remaining 254.80 km of border is planned to be covered by physical and non-physical barriers shortly.There are stretches in which construction of physical barriers is not feasible due to geographic constraints like riverine, low-lying, creek, marshy etc. areas. In this stretch, it is proposed to deploy technology solutions which include deployment of cameras, sensors, radars, lasers, etc. BSF is testing the available technologies through pilot projects in Jammu region, Punjab and Gujarat. BSF is in the process of rollout of Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) for this stretch of IPB and the same is due to be undertaken in a year’s time.
It is high time Pakistan understood that doors for free entry are open to genuinely good friends and in cases of make belief friendship India can very conveniently close doors. Time it should emend its pro-terrorist policy and mend its ways.