Sunday, November 6, 2011

Parliamentary panel asks MHA to deploy copters along Indo-Pak border

UNI: A parliamentary panel has asked the Home Ministry to relocate helicopters stationed at Safdarjung airport in the Capital to ''strategic positions'' along the Indo-Pak border to meet exigencies.

Keeping in mind various facilities being provided to the forces, the Standing Committee on the Home Ministry, headed by senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu, has suggested that modern, fast moving and more efficient vehicles should be provided to troops for border guarding duties instead of the "slow" tractors which are mainly used for agricultural purposes.

The panel, which submitted its report to Vice-President Hamid Ansari on Thursday, also observed that no tangible progress was made on construction of Forward Command Posts despite the recommendation made in 2008.

Border Security Force (BSF), which is increasingly being deployed in the hinterland for counter-insurgency and anti-Naxal operations, may soon get more teeth for search, seizure and arrest as the panel gave the nod to a proposed legislation to this effect, opening the way for the government to get it passed in Parliament during the winter session.

If the teeth are added then the BSF - which is deployed along Indo-Pakistan and Indo-Bangladesh borders -- will be the third border guarding force with such a mandate.

At present, powers of search, seizure and arrest lie with Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), deployed along India-China border, and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) that is deployed along Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders.

Considering the increasing role of BSF in Naxal-infested areas, the government had in August introduced the Border Security Force (Amendment) Bill, 2011 that sought to widen the scope for deployment of the force in the hinterland for counter-insurgency and anti-Naxal operations, during election period or even in maintaining law and order situation "with additional power to search, seizure and arrest" which is otherwise not available to it.

At present, nearly 5,000 BSF personnel are deployed in anti-Naxal operations and they require state police personnel who have power of "search, seizure and arrest" to accompany them. The proposed legislation will provide them more flexibility and mobility in terms of operations.

"The proposed amendment, therefore, is in a way, an enabling provision for BSF which is already available to SSB and ITBP," the Rajya Sabha secretariat said after getting the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs over the bill. SSB and ITBP personnel are also deployed in Naxal-affected areas.

Mr Naidu said the panel adopted the bill without any changes and recommended for it being passed. The bill was sent to it after its introduction in Lok Sabha on August 19.

The committee, in a different report also presented to Dr Ansari on Thursday, recommended special allowances for BSF personnel deployed in "harsh" climatic conditions along the Indo-Pakistan border in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The paramilitary force personnel presently get 'desert/remote area' allowance in various areas of Jammu and Kashmir and north-eastern states, but not in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

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