R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Nov 27 - The Assam Government has submitted a proposal to the Centre to raise five new India Reserve Battalions so that some of the personnel can be deployed along the vulnerable stretches along the international border with Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the State Government has initiated steps for engaging the people living along the border as force multipliers to check infiltration.
Talking to The Assam Tribune today, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the cost of raising the India Reserve Battalions is given by the Centre and normally, the personnel of these battalions are used in special jobs like counter-insurgency operations. “But after the raising of the battalions, we will have at least 5,000 trained personnel and be able to deploy them along the vulnerable stretches of the international border to act as the second line of defence behind the Border Security Force (BSF) whenever necessary to check infiltration,” he added.
Sonowal said that efforts are being made to involve the people living near the international border in checking infiltration. He revealed that during the visits to the border areas, the legislators and senior officials had detailed talks with the local people and urged them to inform the forces if they notice any infiltration bid. He expressed the view that the border guarding system would be strengthened to a great extent if the local people play their part.
The Chief Minister said the teams of legislators and senior officers, formed by the government to visit the border areas, have already submitted their reports with suggestions, and the same were forwarded to the Government of India for necessary action. He said such visits would also encourage the personnel of the border guarding force. He asserted that he would keep visiting the border areas regularly to assess the situation on the ground.
Sonowal pointed out that during his recent visit to New Delhi, he had a discussion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on sealing the international border with Bangladesh. He said that sealing the border is a priority for both the Central and State governments and discussions are on between various Union ministries to chalk out plans to increase vigil.
The Chief Minister said that the Centre is also having regular talks with the State Government in this regard and the vigil along the border has been improved. He claimed that sealing the international border was never on the priority of the State and Centre for a long time, but the situation has now changed as both the governments are now keen on checking infiltration.
On identification of foreigners, Sonowal said the deputy commissioners and superintendents of police of all the districts have been directed to assist the foreigners tribunals. He admitted that a large number of cases are pending before the tribunals, but efforts are being made to give the infrastructure support to the tribunals. The pending bills of the tribunals are also being cleared, he added.