Border guarding forces may not be roped in for internal security

The mandate of three central armed police forces—Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) is likely to undergo major changes as the government is planning to gradually withdraw border guarding forces from internal security duties in order to strengthen protection at various frontiers of the country, government officials said.

According to the proposal, the MHA is working on a new ‘model’ where the responsibility of internal security duties, including conduct of elections, will be largely borne by the country’s largest paramilitary force, the CRPF. The new model and its workability will be tested in the  upcoming elections in Bihar and bypolls in some states where the CRPF will be deployed in a 70:30 ratio along with state police forces, sources familiar with the matter said.

They added that the proposal was first discussed during a meeting of these forces chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah last year. “The CRPF will be the overall security in-charge during conduct of polls. Border guarding forces like BSF, ITBP and SSB will be gradually withdrawn from these duties,” a senior security official said. The official said the border forces have already been directed to strengthen security at their respective fronts.

While the BSF is tasked with guarding international borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh, the ITBP mans the LAC with China while the SSB guards open Indian fronts with Nepal and Bhutan.  The Assam Rifles, under the administrative control of the MHA but manned by army personnel and officers, guards the border with Myanmar.