The Border Security Force (BSF) is adopting several latest technological advances for surveillance and guarding the borders, says Santosh Mehra, Inspector General, Border Security Force, in an exclusive interview with Souvik Goswami of Elets News Network (ENN).
The Border Security Force (BSF) has always been looked upon as a force to reckon with, can you shed some light on its role in safeguarding the nation?
The Border Security Force (BSF) is the largest border guarding force in the world. It is India’s first line of defence on her borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh. It solely protects the entire international borders with these two countries. BSF works shoulder to shoulder with Army on Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). The troops man the borders in the remote terrains of the Rann of Kutch, the Thar Desert, snow-clad mountains in the J&K, the deltas of the Sunderbans and the malaria-infested forests of Tripura.
“Borders have no longer remained in territorial realm only. With digital transformation, cyber space is bypassing territorial borders. Today, the necessity is not to secure territorial limit only; but to safeguard cyber space as well. Therefore, the challenges of security agencies have increased manifold and they need to evolve and equip themselves accordingly.”
BSF was instrumental in controlling the insurgencies in Mizoram, Nagaland, and Manipur. It played a major role in controlling terrorism in Punjab and militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. The Force is also presently deployed in anti-naxal operations in Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
The contribution of BSF during Indo-Pak wars was also commendable. The Force has played a pivotal role during the liberation war of Bangladesh from March, 1971 (much before the armed forces swung into action in December, 1971) which culminated into a thumping victory over Pakistani Army. During Kargil War in 1999, Pak intruders could not capture the heights manned by BSF and the Force personnel have shown gallant actions during the war.
The Force played a major role in containing Delhi Police Strike, 1967, Ahmedabad Riots, 1969, UP Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) Strike, 1973, Railway Strike, 1974, Bhagalpur Riots, 1989, etc.
BSF is also assigned duties during elections. The Force has shown its human face during several disasters such as Gujarat earthquake, 2001, Orissa Super Cyclone, 1999, Tsunami, 2004, Kosi floods, 2008, Cyclone Aila, 2009, Uttarakhand Flood, 2013 and Srinagar Flood, 2014 to name a few.
The Force personnel have participated in several Peace Keeping Missions under the aegis of United Nations (UN), such as Congo, Haiti, Kosovo, Sudan, etc.
Though the BSF is an Armed Force of the Union, it regularly participates in several civic action programmes and provides amenities for border populations and so on. Every year, BSF plays a key role in conduct of Amarnath Yatra.
What are the major challenges in securing borders that our brave BSF personnel have to deal with?
The BSF is manning India’s border with Pakistan and Bangladesh. On the western borders with Pakistan, the major challenge is state sponsored terrorism and trafficking of arms and narcotics. On the eastern borders with Bangladesh, the major challenges are illegal immigration and human trafficking from across the borders, and smuggling of Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) and cattle and several other products across the border. The contiguous human settlements on both sides of boundary line pose a major challenge in maintaining the sanctity of eastern borders.
How technology is being leveraged by the BSF for managing various tasks?
The BSF is adopting several latest technological advances for surveillance and guarding the borders. These include unmanned aerial vehicles, aerostat, RADAR, thermal sensors, night vision sevices, underground sensors, helicopters, floating Border Out Posts (BOPs), all terrain vehicles, hovercrafts, speed boats, water crafts, etc. It is in the process of implementing Integrated Border Management System on Indo-Pak borders.
In the era of Digital Transformation, how important it is to secure the cyber space, especially keeping in mind the role of security agencies in the country?
Borders have no longer remained in territorial realm only. With digital transformation, cyber space is bypassing territorial borders. Today, the necessity is not to secure territorial limit only, but to safeguard cyber space as well. Therefore, the challenges of security agencies have increased manifold and they need to evolve and equip themselves accordingly.
What vision do you have for the BSF?
Our vision is
- To be a Force of excellence in guarding the borders of India through highly professional, credible and efficient border management.
- To maintain sanctity of the borders of India through eternal vigilance.
- To inculcate a sense of security by harnessing cooperation of the border population.
- To effectively deal with internal security challenges whenever so tasked by the government.
- To achieve an effective combat capability by absorbing leading-edge technology, state-of-the art training and user-friendly equipment.
- To evolve and implement a growthoriented Personnel Management System aimed at instilling core values to satisfy the social, economic and psychological needs of the Force personnel.
- To effectively assist civil administration in disaster management and provide succour to the people.
- To effectively promote core values of human rights, pride and dedication to duty in the Force.