No common meeting point between Defence Ministry and Home Ministry.
Even as the Assam Rifles has pitched in to be handed over the operational control of defending the Indo-China border (Actual Line of Control) as well, the Government of India is faced with the task of drawing up the measures for handing over the task of defending Indo-Myanmar border to BSF.
According to sources in Indian Army, the Assam Rifles has the solid backing of the Defence Ministry and is most suitable for defending the 1,643 long km border that North Eastern region of India including Manipur share with Myanmar.
Indian Army has opined that in the light of a large number of insurgent groups operating from just across the border and strategic installations by China along the border with India, it would be more appropriate to deploy Assam Rifles, which has long years of working in border areas of North East region, rather than ITBF, Army has opined.
Being one of the seven Central Armed Forces or Para-Military forces under the Home Ministry, the administration of Assam Rifles is also done by the Home Ministry.
However, unlike the other six forces, the operational control of the Assam Rifles is done by the Army.
Moreover, Assam Rifles has 46 battalions with Army personnel strength of 65,00 0 cadres at the officer level.
A senior Army officer has observed that deployment of a single force along the Indo-Myanmar border is essential taking into account the problem of insurgency in the North Eastern States and serious threats from China in this region.
The Assam Rifles also has a good experience from long deployment in the border areas of North Eastern States, the officer added.
Nonetheless, the Union Home Ministry is not keen on the proposals that the Assam Rifles be put in charge of manning the Indo-Sino border in addition to its present assignment on the Indo-Myanmar border.
The Ministry is not in favour of replacing the ITBF by the Assam Rifles along Indo-Sino border nor deployment of BSF instead of Assam Rifles along Indo-Myanmar border.
The Home Ministry feels that the activities of the Assam Rifles to counter the insurgency and protect the border is not effective enough.
The conflict between the Home Ministry and the Defence Ministry over the issue of defending border has been discussed even at the level of Cabinet Committee on Security.
But the principle of one border, one force has not yet been resolved.
This is inspite of the fact that the Border Management Task Force, which was set up in the wake of 1999 Kargil war and the subsequent report of the Group of Minister have insisted on implementation of the one border, one force doctrine.
The Sangai Express / E-Pao