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1,800 SSB personnel to move to IB for special ops

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: December 18, 2018  | 19:12 IST

/R New Delhi, Dec 18 (PTI) Around 1,800 non-combat personnel of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), which guards the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan border, will be moved to the Intelligence Bureau in a month, officials said on Tuesday. The move is part of the Centre's plan to bolster the Intelligence Bureau's presence at the borders, the officials said. Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) Director General S S Deswal said the proposal to use trained men and women in the central intelligence set up has seen the light of the day after many years and these personnel of the "civil wing" will be deployed to "gather intelligence" under the command of the IB. "The civil wing (of the SSB) is professionally-competent in intelligence-gathering, and their task and capability was matching with the IB and the government has decided to transfer them to the IB. The process has already started and, in next one month, a total of 1,800 people will be transferred to the IB," Deswal said, while talking to reporters on the occasion of the paramilitary force's 55th raising day. A senior official later told PTI that it was expected that these personnel would be tasked to look after the intelligence duties along the China and Nepal fronts. PTI has first reported in October that an order had been issued in this context by the Union home ministry, which had directed that a total of 2,104 posts of the SSB's civilian component, often dubbed as the "dying" cadre, would be transferred to the IB "immediately". Few of these posts are not occupied at present. This manpower of the civil wing of the SSB is termed as "dying" as it does not have any substantial promotional and work avenues after the SSB was declared an armed force in 2001. Last year, the SSB was sanctioned a full-fledged intelligence wing which is manned by combat personnel. The move was in the making for the past few years after National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval had, in June 2016, written to the then home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, underlining the need to effectively utilise this manpower for "enhancing" border security gathering better intelligence. The ministry had ordered that out of the total 24 cadre of these personnel in the SSB, 19 would be sent to the IB. "These cadres will get integrated with relevant and comparable cadres of (the) IB. They will be governed by service conditions of (the) IB after transfer from (the) SSB," the ministry order had said. A blueprint prepared in this context had said that this cadre, which is trained, experienced and well-acquainted with the border areas, could be effectively used to upgrade country's intelligence generation-and-gathering capability along the 15,000-km border. In addition, the blueprint said the personnel could undertake tasks aimed at generating "nationalist sentiments" among the border population, as in the past. Officials had earlier said that the plan of the security establishment was to use the services of these personnel to strengthen the IB's presence, especially on the eastern border front along China, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, where these officials have worked for long. The men and women of this cadre were seen as fast losing their sheen as they were not getting timely promotions. They could not opt for combat posts as their physical fitness did not allow them to perform arduous tasks and their recruitment rules were different from those of the uniformed staffers. The average age of the personnel in this cadre is 50 years. Their task was to help the border population in integrating with the mainstream, and also act as the "eyes and ears" of the SSB, the designated lead intelligence agency along open Indian frontiers with Nepal and Bhutan. The cadre was first raised in 1963, in the aftermath of the Chinese aggression of the previous year, to work in the border areas and promote a sense of national belonging and pro-India feelings among the local population and till 2001, they were called as the Special Service Bureau. The name of the force was changed to Sashastra Seema Bal in 2003, following the 1999 Kargil conflict. It was then tasked with guarding the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders on the country's eastern flank. The SSB, with a strength of about 99,000 personnel, has been guarding the 1,751-km Indo-Nepal border since 2001 and the 699-km Indo-Bhutan border since 2004. PTI NES HMB

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