India Won't Provoke Conflict But Befitting Reply If Attacked: HM

30 April 2015

New Delhi: India today said it will never 'provoke' a conflict at the border with Pakistan but will not back off if there is any attack, asserting a befitting reply will be given. 'India will never provoke conflict by being the first to open fire across the borders but will never back off. Our forces will give a befitting reply to shelling and gunfire from across the border,' Home Minister Rajnath Singh said addressing a conference of BSF and security officials here. Singh was speaking in the context of ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control(LoC) and International Border, which is guarded by the Border Security Force (BSF). The Home Minister also said his Government's policy of BSF giving a befitting reply to any unprovoked firing by Pakistan has gone down well in the country. On other issues, Singh said that in order to enhance the vigil and security at India's riverine borders along Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Government has sanctioned nine new 'floating' border posts to the force. While six of the border posts, self-sustained troops and weapon carrying vessels, will be deployed along the Sunderbans area along the Indo-Bangladesh border, three similar floating platforms have been sanctioned for the BSF along the shallow sea and marshy area of Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Officials said these new vessels would be made and procured from Indian ship and vessel making firms, hopefully, within this financial year. At present there are about five such vessels at both these border areas. The BSF is the mandated border guarding force for these two important Indian frontiers. 'We have to care about both land and coastal security. It is a fact that only a secure nation can progress and same is true for India. 'I have seen the BSF working very closely in these areas and I felt there was a dearth of floating BOPs (border out posts) here and hence we have sanctioned new ones,' Rajnath said while inaugurating the forces' 'Golden Jubilee' seminar here. The one-day seminar, held to commemorate the forces' 50 years of raising this year, is being held on the theme of 'border management in India-challenges and options'. He assured the force of the Home Ministry's commitment to provide the force with latest weaponry and equipment as he lauded the personnel for undertaking welfare activities and development works for the people residing in the vicinity of the borders. The Home Minister, who had recently visited the border areas, said he could get the feel as 'how difficult and hard' the duties of the BSF men were. 'I could see that at times the jawans could not take bath for close to 24 hours and for sometime food was not available. But, I can say this with pride that they are doing their duty with utmost courage and dedication. I salute them,' he said. Singh said the Government also wants to enhance the socio-economic levels of the people living along the border areas as they have a strong 'emotional attachment' with the country that they do not run away from the place of habitation even during troubled times. 'Since Independence, efforts have been made for them (border population). Funds are also given but much more needs to be done for them,' he said, adding, 'even in adversity' many people want to remain at their places only. He expressed happiness that funds allocated during last fiscal for border area development have been utilised to the maximum. 'There will always be some fund crunch and I will keep trying to get more allocations. But the Finance Ministry also has some limitsWe will have to understand that,' he said. The Home Minister said he would favour more and more studies and research to be conducted on issues of border management as he assured BSF that their proposal to set up a new 'institute of border management and strategic studies' would be favourably looked into. He also asked the country's largest border guarding force to use modern technology in guarding Indian frontiers as it was not possible to totally secure them through human deployment. Singh also praised other forces like ITBP, Assam Rifles, Coast Guard and Army for securing Indian borders effectively. Pakistan's 'implicit bid' to fuel separatism in Kashmir is keeping the India's border with the neighbouring country 'alive and dangerous', the top commander of Border Security Force (BSF) said here today. 'Pakistan's strategy of waging proxy wars, neighbouring areas flourishing as markets for arms and drugs, systematic use of fake Indian currency notes for funding terrorism and an implicit bid to fuel separatism in Kashmir has kept this (Indo -Pakistan) border alive and dangerous,' BSF Director General DK Pathak said. At a BSF conference organised on, 'Border Management in India-Challenges and Options', he added that the 'slow withdrawal of NATO forces, increasing interest of China in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and the ever-changing jihadi landscape of this region and beyond has challenged us to review our strategies'. BSF guards the International Border (IB) along Pakistan as a fully-independent unit but works under the operational command of the Army at the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. Pathak said that similar challenges, but of a different nature, were facing the country's largest border-guarding force in the eastern theatre, where it is responsible for securing the 4,096-km-long Indo-Bangladesh border entirely on its own. 'The dimensions of challenges on India-Bangladesh and India-Pakistan borders are dynamic and diverse In an attempt to curb cattle smuggling (along Bangladesh frontier), our jawans sustain injuries almost every other day. 'We exercise utmost restraint in using firearms. If the situation so warrants, our troops first resort to the use of non-lethal weapons. But the problems are so intricately linked that we have to constantly renew our strategies,' he said. That, Pathak said, requires BSF to update 'not only its training and skills but also its attitude'. The DG of the about 2.5 lakh-strong force said his personnel, both men and women, are deployed in some of the most inhospitable terrain since the time it was raised in 1965. The force is celebrating 50 years of its establishment this year. Talking about the Indo-Bangladesh border, Pathak said that its geographical terrain 'is as complex as its ethnographic diversity'. Extending from marshy riverine territories of West Bengal to the flood plains of Assam and passing through the almost impenetrable hills of Meghalaya and Tripura, the Indo- Bangladesh border throws up multiple challenges in terms of illegal migration, smuggling, cross-border terrorist linkages and aspects related to the presence of enclaves and high- density contiguous population. 'For the past 50 years, problems like human trafficking, cattle smuggling, cross-border criminal linkages, etc. (along with) the sociological, economic and political complexities (means) we are face to face with their dangerous fallout,' added Pathak.