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Security Challenges and Their Management in Border Areas

Security challenges and their management in border areas
Syllabus: Security challenges and their management in border areas
Table of content:
1. Introduction
2. India Bangladesh Border
3. India Pakistan Border
4. India China Border
5. India Myanmar Border
6. India Nepal Border
7. India Bhutan Border
8. Border Area Development Plan

India shares border with Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. All over world, most
conflict-free borders are those which are geographical and have been there from the times immemorial. Here
Civilizations settled on either side of geographical barriers like river or mountain ranges and limited exchange
takes place from very beginning. Amur River flows between Russia and China, in same way Tigris River between
Iran and Turkey and these both marks political boundaries between these countries. Other boundaries are
political ones and they bear historical burden as is the case of (sections of boundaries) India with neighbors like
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal etc .
In this case there has been a common historical cultural flow on either side of the border and as a result there
are claims or counter claims. This doesnt imply that natural boundaries are always undisputed, river often
changes their course in long term and this river (if international boundary) can result into fluctuation of political
boundaries. Further, in case of Mountain ranges, a state with expansionist designs (as China is) can exert its
claim unilaterally, resulting into tense situations. It is pertinent to note that these areas between china and India
were once inaccessible, but technological advancements have not only made them accessible, but also
strategically important. To guard borders efficiently, it is pre required that borders are agreed/delineated between
the neighbors. Also, a state with malicious intent can willfully dispute border to trouble its neighbor country to
hamper its progress and to derail its growth.
In Indian case borders are quite complex and almost every type of extreme geography is present at different
borders viz. deserts, fertile lands, swampy marshes or tropical evergreen jungles. It has 14818 kilometers of land
borders and a coast line of 7516.6 kilometers. All states except Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand,
Telangana, Delhi and Haryana have an international border or a coast line. 92 of Indias 593 districts are border
districts in 17 states. Indias boundary with Pakistan (3323 km), China (3488 km), Nepal (1751 km), Bhutan (699
km), Myanmar (1643 km), and Bangladesh (4096.7 km).
Border management becomes more important for the fact that India is like island of democracy between seas of
anarchical or instable states. Probably, no other neighbouring country has experienced uninterrupted democratic
regime for more than 15 years. Additionally, in some countries there is cultural radicalism which is targeted on
India, and terrorists and mafia groups are patronized by some of Indias neighbouring states. There is cross
border smuggling problem of drugs, cattle, humans, artifacts, fake currency note etc. Unfortunately, in this


scenario our border forces appear to be severely undermanned and under-equipped which is taking heavy toll on
economic, social and political stability of our country.
In 2001, Group of Ministers on review of border management gave many important recommendations. One of
the major recommendations was the setting up of a separate Department of Border Management within the
Ministry of Home Affairs. This has been done. Yet other major recommendations like the early settlement of our
maritime borders and the demarcation of land boundaries has not yet been fully implemented. The GoM
had strongly recommended the principle of one border one force for better accountability and
specialization. It emphasized the imperative of not deploying the border guarding forces for law and order
duties and counter insurgencies. It made some recommendations specific to better management of IndiaPakistan, India-Nepal and other borders. It lamented the neglect of maritime borders and island territories and
made recommendations to strengthen coast guard and police. As a result of these recommendations border
management has got more attention but the Mumbai terrorist attacks had again shown that a lot more needs to
be done to improve border management.

Indian Bangladesh border

India shares 4096.7 Km of its land border with Bangladesh. West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and
Mizoram are the States which share the border with Bangladesh. The entire stretch consists of plain, riverine,
hilly/jungle and with hardly any natural obstacles. The area is heavily populated, and at many stretches the
cultivation is carried out till the last inch of the border. Border was drawn by the Bengal Boundary Commission
chaired by Sir Cyril Radcliffe.
The border was thus drawn on the basis of old district maps. This made the boundary random. Instead of
following natural barriers, it meanders through villages, agricultural lands, and rivers, rendering the border
extremely porous with many disputed pockets. Undemarcated stretches, existence of enclaves (chhit-mohols),
and adverse possessions had been causing constant friction between the border guarding forces of India and
Consequently, there was setup an India- Pakistan boundary dispute commission in 1949 it settled many
disputes but in soon they resurfaced along with new problems of enclaves. To address the boundary disputes
and to reduce tensions between the two countries, the Nehru-Noon Agreement on India-East Pakistan
Border was signed in New Delhi in 1958. These efforts, however failed to bring disputes to end. It was only in
1974, barely 3 years after liberation of Bangladesh that the Indira-Mujibur Agreement laid down the methods
for demarcating various disputed stretches of the India-Bangladesh boundary. This also called Land Boundary
Agreement and, India and Bangladesh, both the countries committed to exchange the enclaves and cede the
adverse possessions.
There were 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 enclaves of Bangladesh in India. India did not have
access to these enclaves in Bangladesh, and hence, no administrative set-up to provide facilities like police
stations, courts, schools, roads, hospitals, banks, markets, etc. to their residents could be established there. It
was only in 2014 that bill ratifying Indira-Mujibur or land boundary agreement was passed in Indian Parliament.
Issues with this border
Illegal Immigration There were both push and pull factors working on this border. Under development, religious
persecution, environmental concerns etc. pushed Bangladeshis into India, while Indias huge economy and
accommodative society pulled immigrants. According to Task Force on Border management, 2001, there are
about 15 million Bangladeshi illegal immigrants in India, increasing at rate of 3 lakh per month. Recent eruption
of communal violence in Assam has direct link with this immigration.
Cattle and other Smuggling It big unique problem with this border. It is said that if India restricts this supply
then it can starve Bangladeshis of food. Cattle from as far as Haryana, UP, Bihar is taken to borders for grazing
and then smuggled to Bangladesh. Bangladesh also imposes custom duty on these imports. Cattle confiscated


on border alone are around one lakh annually. This way government is losing revenue of around 10000 crore
Along with cattle, smuggling of arms, and other essential items such as sugar, salt and diesel, human and
narcotics trafficking, counterfeit Indian currency, kidnapping, and thefts are quite rampant along the India
Bangladesh border.
Bases of Anti India elements: Presently, the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), the All Tripura Tiger Force
(ATTF), the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)
as well as several other insurgent outfits from the Northeast have bases in the Chittagong, Khagrachari, and
Sylhet districts of Bangladesh. Incumbent government has to much extent curtailed activity in these bases.

Border out posts: BSF is presently manning 802 existing Border out Posts on Indo-Bangladesh border. In
pursuance of Group of Ministers recommendations to reduce the inter-BOP distance to 3.5 Km, the
Government has approved construction of additional BOPs on this border.
Border Trade: Along the India-Bangladesh border, there are 32 land custom stations spread over the states of
West Bengal, Meghalaya, Assam, Tripura and Mizoram. Petrapole in West Bengal is one of the most important
land customs stations with Bangladesh.
Fencing and Floodlighting: These are important constituents of maintaining vigilance along the borders. In
order to curb infiltration, smuggling and other anti-national activities from across Indo-Pakistan and IndoBangladesh borders, the Government has undertaken the work of construction of fencing, floodlighting and roads
along these borders.
In case of Bangladesh, of the 3326 kilometer border only 501 kilometers is left without fence of which 130
kilometers is land where barbed wire fencing is going on and the rest of the portion is covered with rivers and
water bodies. On rivers Border Security Force is planning to erect floating fence. (as on Aug. 2014)
Integrated Check Posts: There are several designated entry and exit points on the international borders of the
country through which cross border movement of persons, goods and traffic takes place. Conventional
infrastructure for discharge of various sovereign functions at these points is neither adequate or integrated nor
coordinated and no single agency is responsible for coordination of various Government functions and services
at these points. These functions include those of security, immigration, customs, human, plant and animal
quarantine etc., as also the provision of support facilities for both the Government personnel and the immigrants
such as warehousing, parking etc.
As a response to the situation of inadequate infrastructure for cross border movement of persons, vehicles and
goods, it was decided to set up Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) at major entry points on our land borders. These
ICPs would house all regulatory agencies like Immigration, Customs, Border Security, Quarantine etc.,
along with support facilities in a single complex equipped with all modern amenities.
Indias first ICP was at Attari border, Amritsar with Pakistan. Second one was opened at Bangladesh border at
Agartala in 2013.

India Pakistan Border

This is spread across extreme climatic conditions given that the boundary runs from the hot Thar Desert in
Rajasthan to the cold Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir. India shares 3323 km long and complicated boundary
with Pakistan. The India-Pakistan boundary is categorized under three different heads. The first is the
international boundary also known as the Radcliff line. It is 2308 km long and stretches from Gujarat to
parts of Jammu district in Jammu and Kashmir. The second is the line of control (LoC), or the Cease Fire Line,
which came into existence after the 1948 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan. This line is 776 km long,


and runs along the districts of Jammu (some parts), Rajouri, Poonch, Baramula, Kupwara, Kargil and some
portions of Leh. And the third is the actual ground position line (AGPL), which is 110 km long and extends
from NJ 9842 to Indira Col in the North (Siachin Glacier).
In the 1990s, India began to fence this massive, border, of which 550 kms in J&K were completed in 2004. By
2011, almost all of the border fencing along J&K, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat was completed.
The double-row fencing on the LoC is meant to keep out militants, separatists, smugglers and other infiltrators,
and for this purpose, it has been electrified, connected to a range of sensors and strewn with landmines. The
entire border is also lit up with strong floodlights installed on more than 50,000 poles. As a result, the Indo-Pak
border can actually be seen from space at night.

There are about 700 border out posts, one Integrated Check post is there at Attari, Amritsar.
Despite of fencing smuggling, mainly of Heroine is rampant at border of Punjab. It happens because villagers at
both sides of border are accomplice to such activities. Further, Involvement of Local politicians is also there in
these cases.
Apart from this, anti-India Jihadist Groups are in collusion with Pakistan Armed forces who constantly tries to
push terrorists to Indian Side of LOC. For this there has been occasional indiscriminate firing from Pakistani side
in which Soldiers and citizens get killed. Few years back there was news that a 10 meter wall of earth
excavations is being erected at border near Jammu.
Recently, Border Security Force is implementing a Rs. 4500 crore project, Smart Fence mechanism. Under this
laser walls and heat sensor system will be installed on the boundary. While this may deter terrorists and
Pakistan, innocent villagers may get caught into the trap.
Integrated Check Post at Attari remains pretty busy for trade and this is only venue for cross border trade with
India China Border
India and China share a 3,488 km long boundary. Unfortunately, the entire boundary is disputed. The line, which
delineates the boundary between the two countries, is popularly called the McMahon line, after its author Sir
Henry McMahon. In 1913, the British-India government had called a tripartite conference, in which the boundary
between India and Tibet was formalized after a discussion between the Indian and the Tibetans. A Convention
was adopted, which resulted in the delimitation of the Indo-Tibetan boundary. This boundary is, however,
disputed by China which terms it as illegal. It is interesting that in same agreement, boundary upto Myanmar
was settled, and China accepts Mac Mohan line with Myanmar.
India and China had never shared a common boundary till; China liberated or occupied Tibet in 1950. It was
then that the hitherto India Tibet boundary was transformed into an India-China boundary. Since 1954, China
started claiming large tracts of territory along the entire border such as Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir, some
areas in Uttrakhand and the entire Arunachal Pradesh. In 1957, China occupied Aksai Chin and built a road
through it. This episode was followed by intermittent clashes along the border, which finally culminated in the
border war of 1962. The boundary, which came into existence after the war, came to be known as Line of Actual
Control (LAC). It is a military held line.
The rapprochement between the two countries in 1976 enabled India and China to initiate High Level border
talks in 1981 to find a solution to the vexed problem. After eight rounds, the talks broke down in 1987. In 1988,
following Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhis visit to China, the Joint Working Group (JWG) was set up to look into the
border problem. In 1993, the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of
Actual Control (LAC) was signed and the India-China Expert Group of Diplomatic and Military Officers was
set up to assist the JWG.


In 1996, the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) in the Military Field along the LAC was
signed. In 2003, two special representatives (one each from India and China) were appointed to find a political
solution to the border dispute. Till 2009, these two special representatives had held 17 rounds of talks, but it
seems they have not made much headway. Recently, NSA Ajit Doval was appointed as Special Envoy for talks.
There are three stages of negotiation:
1. Agreeing to guiding principles to be followed this is done
2. Recognizing Boundary and area evolving consensus this is toughest one and process is struck here
3. Demarcation of boundaries

Chinas People Liberation Army has time and again intruded Indian borders. This was followed by Indian PMs
visit to China in 2013, where additional Confidence Building Measure on Border cooperation was agreed at. The
measures include regular interaction between the Army Headquarters and Field Commands of the two sides,
additional border personnel meeting points and more telecommunication linkages between their forward posts at
mutually agreed locations. Despite this incursions continue, recent one when Xi Jinping was on Indian visit,
suggests that either there is lack of coordination or there are differences in China Communist Party and Peoples
Liberation Army leadership.
As regards border management, the India-China border throws up only a few challenges. There is hardly any
circulation of people or goods between the two countries through the border. Few intermittent interactions,
nonetheless did take place though the gaps in the mountain ranges. These gaps were the trade and migration
routes through which people and goods flowed. Some tribes like Monpas, Sherdukpens, Membas, Khambas and
Bhutias had social and cultural ties with people across the border. Many other tribes also frequented the markets
of Tibet to buy and sell products, but all these stopped after the 1962 war.
Presently, there are only three designated areas along the India-China border through which border trade takes
place; these are Lipu Lekh, Shipki La and Nathu La. The volume of trade in these trading points is not large.
However, large scale smuggling of Chinese electronic and other consumer goods take place through these
border points.
India has under taken border road construction in Arunachal Pradesh which was objected to by China. India
ignored the objection by reiterating its authority over the area. Indian side of Border almost has no Infrastructure.
This is due to ever-present lethargy of Indian government. On other hand, China has built massive rail road
linkages on its side. Further, to implement recommendation on Border out posts 3.5 Km distance limit of Working
Group; work on building more BOPs is going on.
India Myanmar Boundary
Frontiers of British India and Myanmar came together first time in 1826 after British won 1 st Anglo Burmese war.
After Independence, The boundary was demarcated in 1967 under an agreement signed by both countries.
There were many border agreements between these two years in which borders were fluctuating and this has
created confusion.

The location of the Indo-Myanmar boundary throws up many challenges for the effective management of the
boundary. Though the boundary is properly demarcated, there are a few pockets that are disputed. The rugged
terrain makes movement and the overall development of the area difficult. The internal dynamics of the region in
terms of the clan loyalties of the tribal people, inter-tribal clashes, insurgency, and transborder ethnic ties also
adversely affect the security of the border areas.
There is practically no physical barrier along the border either in the form of fences or border outposts and roads
to ensure strict vigil. Insurgents make use of the poorly guarded border and flee across when pursued by Indian


security forces. Close ethnic ties among the tribes such as Nagas, Kukis, Chin, etc., who live astride the border
help these insurgents in finding safe haven in Myanmar. These cross-border ethnic ties have facilitated in
creation of safe havens for various northeast insurgent groups in Myanmar.

The location of the boundary at the edge of the Drugs golden triangle facilitates the unrestricted illegal flows of
drugs into Indian territory. Heroin is the main item of drug trafficking. The bulk of heroin enters India through the
border town of Moreh in Manipur. It is reported that the local insurgent groups are actively involved in drugs and
arms trafficking.
Work for Fence erection and road building is going on, but at times it is interrupted because of opposition.
India Nepal Border
India and Nepal have shared an open border since 1950. The conception of such a border can be found in the
Treaty of Peace and Friendship that the two countries signed that year. Provisions in the treaty, wherein
citizens of both countries are given equal rights in matters of residence, acquisition of property, employment and
movement in each others territory, provide for an open border between the two countries. While open border
has been a great facilitator of strong and unique bilateral relations, at the same time, it has given rise to many
irritants and problems that raise serious concerns.
Open border has been a great facilitator of strong and unique bilateral relations. At the same time, it has given
rise to many irritants and problems that raise serious concerns. Allegations of excesses such as intimidation, and
forcible grabbing of land by either side along the disputed border also surface from time to time.
All terrorist organizations, be it from Punjab, Kashmir, northeast or those of Maoists have fully exploited open
borders with Nepal. It has been reported that many terrorists have sneaked into India through the porous and
poorly guarded Indo-Nepal border. Apart from insurgents and terrorists, many hard-core criminals pursued by
Indian and Nepalese security forces escape across the open border. These anti-national elements indulge in
illegal activities, such as smuggling of essential items and fake Indian currency, gun-running, and drugs and
human trafficking.
The problem is further aggravated by intelligence inputs that Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been
using Nepalese territory to carry out anti-India activities since the 1990s. WikiLeaks documents have revealed
that the ISI has created a number of terrorist fronts in Nepal and has also pushed in men and explosives through
the border to carry out terror attacks in India.
In recent times, police forces have achieved some success in capturing all types of criminals from these borders.
This shows that cooperation from Nepal is increasing in this regard. In 2013 two Terrorists Abdul karim Tunda
and Yasin Bhatkal were arrested from this border.
Nepal is a landlocked country and its closest access to the sea is through India. As a result most of its imports
pass through India. Keeping this in consideration, India has granted Nepal 15 transit and 22 trading points along
the border.
India Bhutan Border
India and Bhutan share a 669 km long boundary. The boundary is demarcated except along the tri-junction with
China. The process of demarcation of the India-Bhutan border started in 1961 and was completed in 2006. Like
with Nepal, Indias boundary with Bhutan is also an open boundary. The border was peaceful till Indian insurgent
groups established camps in the southern districts of Bhutan. This problem has been effectively dealt with during
the Bhutanese governments Operation All Clear, which saw the destruction and uprooting of all insurgent
camps in Bhutanese territory.
Chinese made goods, Bhutanese cannabis, liquor and forest products are major items smuggled into India.
Livestock, grocery items and fruits are smuggled out of India to Bhutan.


Border Area Development Program

Development of border areas has been a matter of concern for the country. The Border Area Development
Programme (BADP) was initiated in western region, which at that point of time was the most volatile border,
during the Seventh Five Year Plan period for ensuring balanced development of border areas through
development of infrastructure and promotion of wellbeing and a sense of security among the border population.
The programme has been expanded since to cover the border blocks of the 17 States (including 8 North Eastern
States), which have international land borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The development of border areas is now viewed as a part of the comprehensive approach to the Border
Management, which focuses on socio-economic development of the people and promotion of wellbeing
and a security environment in the border areas.
The programme is supplemental in nature to fill the gaps and the funds under BADP are provided to the States
as a 100% non-lapsable Special Central Assistance for execution of projects relating to infrastructure,
livelihood, education, health, agriculture, and allied sectors to meet the special developmental needs of the
people living in remote and inaccessible areas situated near the international border.
The BADP is being implemented by the Department of Border Management, Ministry of Home Affairs
through the State Governments. Guidelines of the programme are prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs in
consultation with Planning Commission (or now NITI Aayog), Ministry of Finance and concerned State
Governments. Formulation of schemes/projects, their approval and execution is the primary responsibility of the
State Governments. Implementation of the Programme is monitored and reviewed by the State Governments
and Ministry of Home Affairs.

As already said, Group of Ministers recommended principle of One Border One Force, due to which
government has raised Paramilitary Forces Border Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, Indo Tibetan Border
police etc. which have specialized area responsibility. These will be covered in next article on the topic Various
Security forces and agencies and their mandate.