October 2003 News

CRPF to replace BSF in J&K from next month

14 October 2003
The Hindustan Times
Press Trust of India

New Delhi: Ending prolonged suspense, BSF would be phased out from counter- terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir from next month, about 14 years after being inducted into the campaign, and be replaced by CRPF.Although no specific dates have yet been finalised for the transition, the government has asked the two forces to begin the process by next month, high-level official sources said on Wednesday.BSF will pull out eight of its 52 battalions from Srinagar in the initial stage to be replaced by the same number of CRPF battalions.Prior to the pull out, BSF will work with CRPF battalions to be inducted for about a month to ensure a smooth changeover, they said.The eight battalions of CRPF earmarked for replacing BSF have been given special 45-day training by Army, the sources said.After their induction, more CRPF battalions will be readied for replacing BSF in a phased manner, they said.Confirming the move, BSF Director General Ajai Raj Sharma said the force was awaiting government's orders regarding dates for pullout.The transition is being carried out on the recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM) set up after Kargil intrusions to suggest measures to strengthen the country's security system.The GoM had suggested that each force be deployed for the duties it had been created for. In this context, it said that BSF was created for guarding borders and it be sent back to the frontiers.Sharma said the pull out will help the BSF 'strengthen the country's Eastern and Western borders' as more personnel would be available for deployment.He favoured limiting the force's role to guarding frontiers, stating that challenges of 'external threats' posed by Pak-backed terrorism should be met at the border itself.He said that because of deployment of BSF for internal security duties, its manpower availability for the borders was reduced considerably leaving gaps on the frontiers, which allowed more infiltration.'By deploying more personnel on the borders, infiltration of terrorists can be met more effectively,' the BSF chief said.He said it would be 'safer, easier and more cost-effective for the nation to meet the challenges of external threats at the border itself rather than allow anti-national elements to penetrate into the hinterland and then confront them.'He argued that though hundreds of militants are being killed in counter-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir, 'the number is replenished with continued infiltration'.

 

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