Govt to set up separate intel wing for ITBP

New Delhi: The government will set up an exclusive intelligence wing in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) which will generate information along the crucial Sino-Indian frontier.

In order to meet the new requirements of ITBP, deployed along the 3,488-kilometres of the China border as the primary vigil force, the government has also approved a more than Rs 3,000 crore modernisation plan to expand the strength of the ITBP.

Currently, the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) are the two central paramilitary forces which have exclusive units to gather intelligence for operational purposes.

The force has also been given financial sanction to raise 13 additional battalions (about 13,000 more personnel) to augment its existing strength of about 45000 troops.

"On February 17, sanction orders amounting to Rs 2279.84 crore (non-recurring) and Rs 766.64 crore (re-curring) were issued for ITBP to raise 13 additional battalions, establishment of new training institutes, strengthening of the intelligence set-up," Home Minister P Chidambaram said in his monthly report card on February 1.

According to sources, the force will earmark a few personnel from each battalion who will only deal with gathering and generation of intelligence along the borders where the force is deployed.

Such personnel will undergo prior training for their new job, they said.

The restructuring plan of the force also envisages to strengthen border posts, acquire modern weaponry and specialised vehicles.

Three recruit training centres, a counter-insurgency and jungle warfare school and a high-altitude medical training centre are also scheduled to be constructed for the force which has also deployed about five battalions in the anti-naxal grid in Maoist-affected states.

The modernisation plan will also bring additional computers, recovery vehicles, fibre-reinforced polymer huts, high-power snow cutters, deep-search mine metal detectors, hand grenade simulators and other devices for the ITBP troops.

Sources said the force is also planning to undertake more Short Range Patrols (SRPs) as compared to the present Long Range Patrols (LRPs) along the Sino-Indian border. Under the modernisation plan, the ITBP will also provide its border posts with additional satellite phones, oxygen cylinders for personnel and more vehicles to enable them to keep a strict vigil along the border.

ITBP posts are located at heights ranging from 9,000 to 18,500 feet. While 60 per cent of them have no road connectivity, almost 30 per cent are maintained by helicopters. Communication between patrol parties and the base locations and posts is often disrupted by bad weather.