NEW DELHI: The Sashastra Seema Bal’s first ever intelligence wing will be operationalised by Union Home minister Rajnath Singh on Monday, a home ministry official said on Sunday. The SSB has been mandated to guard the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders where there are no restrictions on the movement of people on either side. The border population on both the sides has strong regional, cultural and economic ties. These borders are often used by criminals and Kashmiri militants returning from Pakistan. The intelligence wing will comprise 650 field and staff agents to gather actionable information.
The ministry official, while requesting anonymity, explained that due to the visa-free regime India has with Nepal and Bhutan, there is a trans-border movement of criminals and anti-national elements which pose a major challenge. As many as 230 former Kashmiri militants, based in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, have returned home through the Indo-Nepal border since 2010. Also, their spouses and 88 children have come along with them, the official said.
The Indo-Bhutan border is known to be frequented by the Assam-based insurgent group NDFB, which has even attacked Bhutanese nationals in the past. India shares a 1,751-km-long border with Nepal and a 699 -km-long border with Bhutan. The SSB has also been declared as the lead intelligence agency for both the borders. Therefore, the central government felt that a well-knit intelligence network of the highest capability that can function and deliver would be the prime requirement for comprehensive border management. Another ministry official, who did not wish to be named, said the need for SSB’s intelligence wing is much required as SSB’s operations are based on intelligence to prevent criminals and smugglers from taking advantage of the friendly borders with Nepal and Bhutan.
The SSB has 474 Border Out Posts (BOPs) on the Nepal border and 131 on the Bhutan border. The border with Nepal touches Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim and the border with Bhutan touches Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.