The government has set a target of completely sealing the India-Pakistan border by December 2018, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday after chairing a high-level meeting of top ministers and officials from Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, and Jammu and Kashmir.
“This meeting was called as the Home Ministry has set a target of sealing the Indo-Pak border by December 2018,” said Singh, adding that a time-bound action plan has been prepared.
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“When we implement this action plan, it will be properly monitored periodically — monthly and quarterly — so that we are able to reach this target in time. As per the framework we have prepared, it will be monitored at the levels of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Border Security Force (BSF) and at the chief secretary-level in states,” he said.
“Effective monitoring is essential” if the government wants to achieve the target of sealing the border by 2018-end, said Singh.
“There is a new concept regarding border security… Border Security Grid. For this, we have taken suggestions from all stakeholders. In this meeting, all have given their suggestions. On that basis, we will give a final shape to the Border Security Grid and guidelines will be issued to the states.”
According to the government, out of the 2,289.66 km of the India-Pakistan border under the control of MHA, 2,034.96 km has been covered by physical barriers, including fencing. The remaining 254.8 km will be covered by “physical and non-physical barriers shortly”.
As for stretches of riverine, low-lying and marshy areas, where the construction of physical barriers is not feasible, it is proposed to deploy “technology solutions”, including cameras, sensors, radars, lasers, etc.
The Line of Control (LoC) is under the operational control of the Ministry of Defence.
Singh asked the MHA, BSF and participating states for faster implementation of infrastructure projects, effective monitoring, intelligence-sharing and inter-agency cooperation “in view of the prevailing security scenario in the country”.
During the meeting, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje raised issues regarding modernisation of the police force, security in the hinterland and the “peculiar problems” of sparsely populated desert areas with shifting sand dunes.
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal drew attention to the problems of farmers having land across the border, and the smuggling of arms and drugs from Pakistan.
Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home Affairs Pradeep Sinh B Jadeja said that 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.
The Union Home Minister said he had instructed state governments that “whenever the BSF brings up a complaint, it should be lodged and properly investigated, a chargesheet filed and the guilty punished”.
Assuring the nation with regards to security, Singh said, “Desh ki suraksha ko kisi bhi surat me aanch nahi aane payegi, yeh main aapko yakeen dilana chahta hun. (I want to assure that the nation’s security will not come under any harm). Like a farmer protects his crop, in the same way a jawan protects the nation.”
Also present at the meeting were: Union MoS for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju; Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria; Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, MHA’s Secretary (Border Management) Susheel Kumar; BSF D-G K K Sharma; and, chief secretaries and DGPs of the border states, apart from senior officers of the MHA and BSF.
On a different note, Singh declined to comment on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s remarks that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was doing “dalali” (cashing in) on the sacrifice of India’s soldiers in connection with the surgical strikes by the Army along the LoC.
“Jab desh ke samaksh koi badi chunauti ho, toh samast deshwasiyon ko ekjut hokar uska mukabla karna chahiye (Whenever the nation is facing a challenge, all countrymen should stand united and face it together). People working in any field must show restraint at time of escalated tensions,” said Singh.
“There is no doubt that India-Pakistan tension has increased, and in such a situation, all countrymen should unite and have faith and believe in what the jawans are doing, and stand by them,” he said.