The NDA government is planning to provide “military training” to people living along the China border so that they can “act as a paramilitary force” and keep a check on the incursions by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), a top government official told The Indian Express.
“The border population will be given military training and they will act as a paramilitary force in a moment of crisis. A person living along one kilometre of the border is the best choice to keep a vigil on any kind of transgression and incursion, especially when the border is not demarcated. The UPA government’s policy of keeping the border areas closed for any kind of civilian movement has cost us dearly,” said the official.
This is in keeping with the NDA government’s policy to make the border areas accessible to civilians and develop infrastructure and roads on a war footing. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has already proposed spending Rs 5,000 crore to encourage villagers to settle along the China border in Arunachal Pradesh. The proposal is pending clearance from the Finance Ministry.
Due to lack of infrastructure, the people living in the area are reported to have moved at least 50 kilometres away from the China border, abandoning their homes and settling in the foothills. “If we equip the border population with all the amenties and also provide them arms training, the number of incursions will come down. We are not going to anybody else’s territory, we are securing our country by doing so,” said the official.
The tradition of giving military training to the border population started after the India-China war in 1962, when the Special Service Bureau, now renamed Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), was raised to inculcate a feeling of nationality among the border population and develop their capabilities for resistance through a continous process of motivation and training. The practice of armed training was discontinued in 2001.
However, a similar practice is still prevalent in Jammu and Kashmir in the form of village defence committees, which work under the state police and are armed with licensed weapons to fight militants. Meanwhile, the MHA is already working on a plan conceived during the UPA government’s tenure to double the presence of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force in Arunachal.
As per the plan, around 54 new outposts are set to come up along the China border, and the number of security personnel will be increased to 30,000.