NEW DELHI: With the open Indo-Nepal border posing new challenges such as huge infiltration and exfiltration of terrorists and criminals, massive human trafficking besides large scale smuggling of narcotics and fake Indian currency notes (FICN) to security forces, para-military force Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), which mans the 1,751-km-long border, is all set to install "laser walls'' or infrared fencing at the border to maintain an effective vigil.
As the Indo-Nepal border is open under the international friendship treaty, it witnesses hectic activity since people do not require a visa or other documents, except an ID proof, which facilitates easy movement of illegal immigrants, terrorists, human traffickers and those involved in FICN and narcotics smuggling.
SSB director general Archana Ramasundaram, IG (operations) A K Singh and DIG (Operations) Vikas Arora were among several SSB officials who gathered at the SSB headquarters in New Delhi on Wednesday for a demonstration of infrared fencing and other state-of-the-art electronic surveillance gadgets.
Sources disclosed to The New Indian Express that the SSB officals, taking a cue from their counterparts in the Border Security Force (BSF), came up with the proposal to install infrared fencing at the Sonauli checkpost on the Indo-Nepal border at the earliest. ''Terrorists, criminals who are into smuggling narcotics and FICN and human traffickers use this route to sneak into the country and over the years, this border has become extremely porous.
Therefore, there is a need to have effective surveillance mechanisms,'' sources said. Last year, the BSF had installed operational ''laser walls'' or infrared fencing along the India-Pakistan International Border in Punjab to keep an effective vigil on terrorists and narcotics smugglers. Sources said the sensors would be monitored through a satellite-based signal command system that will also have night and fog operability tools besides other latest features. ''For any person to cross the Indo-Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh, all that is required is an ID proof.
Over the years, smuggling has become rampant and so also the movement of intruders and terrorists who then travel to different parts of the country to execute their nefarious designs. We wanted non-obtrusive checking mechanisms as this border witnesses hectic activity involving genuine citizens of both countries,'' said a field official posted on the Indo-Nepal border. Recently, the SSB personnel had nabbed active Hizbul Mujahideen militant Naseer Ahmed at the Sonauli border checkpost when he sneaked in from Nepal. His handlers in Jammu and Kashmir had asked him to go to Gorakhpur and await further instructions. For all terror groups, the Indo-Nepal border has been the easiest way of sneaking into the country with explosives and there have been regular intelligence inputs about the terrorists, human traffickers and narcotic smugglers.
MORE GADGETS FOR SSB
Besides infrared fencing, the SSB officials are also introducing state-of-the-art explosive-cum-narcotic detectors, fibroscope (a flexible fiber-optic bundle with an eyepiece on one end and a lens on the other used to examine and inspect small, difficult-to-reach places such as the insides of machines, locks, and the human body to check smuggling of explosive material, narcotics, etc) and X-ray baggage scanners.
TRAFFICKING ON THE RISE
A steady increase in cases of human trafficking from across the Nepal border and Indian towns in the vicinity has prompted security agencies to undertake new measures to check the menace. As per data available with the SSB, a total of 33 victims, both Indian and Nepalese, were apprehended on the border by the force in 2014, while eight traffickers were nabbed. The figures rose to 336 in 2015 when more than 100 traffickers were nabbed. In 2016, the figures went up to an alarming 501 and 148. From the beginning of 2017 (first four months), close to 200 victims have been rescued by the SSB, while more than 50 traffickers have been arrested so far.
FICN, ARMS AND NARCOTICS
In 2015, the SSB seized fake currency worth Rs 36,000, six arms along with ammunition and 2.55 kg potassium besides huge quantities of heroin, brown sugar, cocaine, charas and smack (worth Rs 20 crore) and arrested 51 people. In 2016, eight arms with ammunition besides large quantities of narcotics (worth over Rs 71 crore) were seized and 93 accused were arrested. Similarly, in the first couple of months of 2017, narcotics worth Rs 57 lakh was seized and three persons were apprehended. Besides narcotics, people have also been smuggling forest products, sand, beetul nuts, idols, gold and silver among other items. Sashastra Seema Bal The personnel of the Central para-military force guard the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders and are also involved in anti-Naxal operations in the Maoist-infested states of Bihar and Chattisgarh besides counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir.