The Border Security Force (BSF) and the Jammu Kashmir Police Monday came under attack over the issue of management of security along the international border and the hinterland from an unusual quarter, with Brigadier (veteran) Anil Gupta expressing concern over BSF’s “repeated failure’’ to prevent infiltration and the police for its inability to challenge militants all the way from their infiltration point in Samba district to Ban Toll Plaza near Nagrota in Jammu.
Four heavily armed Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, who were killed by police near Ban Toll Plaza on Thursday, were stated to have used nearly 150 mts long cross border tunnel found in Regal area of Samba district to enter the Union Territory from Pakistan side. The tunnel was detected by BSF and police in a joint operation on Sunday.
“It is the 4th or 5th time when a tunnel has been detected after infiltration has taken place…The occasion is used by the senior officials of BSF and JKP to make tall claims, criticize Pakistan, conduct photo ops and things return to square one after a few days till the next big infiltration becomes public and another tunnel is found again,’’ stated Brig Gupta who also happens to be the BJP spokesperson in the UT.
“Why is it that the tunnels are detected only after the infiltration has taken place? Why no action is taken to pinpoint responsibility, lapses and failures and pro-active measures taken to prevent similar lapses in future? Is it lack of resources, will, professionalism or sincerity,” questioned Brig Gupta. The government of India has spent crores of rupees to equip the BSF to stop infiltration including the Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) to overcome the difficulties of terrain, he added.
“Not very long ago, BSF officers had displayed to the media a tractor modified for tunnel detection,’’ he said, adding that there were also claims of importing tunnel detection equipment. “What happened to all that and why that equipment is not being used? Why cry over the spilt milk and blame ISI and Pakistan every time?,’’ he asked, adding “where is the accountability on our own side?’’ “Is there something more than meets the eye,” he asked.
Pointing out that the BSF has been provided with seismic detectors, he said that any underground disturbance is meant to be picked up by these detectors. “Definitely, digging of the 150-meter-long tunnel should have been picked up by these detectors but wasn’t. What is the reason? For how long can the cover up actions be condoned in such grave lapses pertaining to national security? Where is our commitment to guard and defend our borders,” rued Brig Gupta. Incidentally, these tunnels serve dual-purpose and the BSF knows that apart from inducting terrorists these are also used for smuggling narcotics. These are the Highways of narco-terrorism. Rather than making the detected tunnel public for self-glorification it should have been booby-trapped and kept under surveillance advised Brig Gupta.
The fact that the terrorists trekked on foot for 9 km undetected and thereafter boarded a truck on the National Highway and travelled up to Nagrota unchallenged is a matter of concern and exposes the hollow claims of Jammu Kashmir Police on 24×7 surveillance and vigilance. “What were the Highway patrols doing? Where were the check posts on the Highway?’’ he asked, adding there is an urgent and inescapable need for full-body scanners at selected places on the NH.
The fact that the move after infiltration remained undetected raises serious questions on the anti-infiltration grid on the IB and it is for this reason that IB sector has become an active and preferred route of infiltration with a very low success rate of preventing infiltration, he said. Pointing out that the linear deployment of the BSF behind the fence has not proved adequate, he called for an immediate review of the border management system.
“Recommending the use of ex-servicemen as Border Defence Volunteer Force who are a valuable asset living in border areas for strengthening the depth area surveillance and patrolling. They should be deployed on either side of the NH up to a depth of 5-10 km depending on the distance of IB from NH.”
Brig Gupta also requested the Modi government to carry out a serious review of command and control of all border guarding forces on the LAC and IB. To have greater coordination and effective command and control, these need to be placed under the Ministry of Defence. The present system has been found wanting time and again, he added.
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