India on Thursday April 30, 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 in New Delhi. 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 limits…we 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.