Nelong Valley (Ukhand): The Centre has undertaken a special project to connect all the border posts along the Sino-India frontier with roads, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today as he reviewed the operational preparedness of a forward ITBP unit here.
Singh ringed in the new year with the troops of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) at this border post located at a height of 11,614 feet in Uttarakhand, where the mercury dropped to minus 20 degrees Celsius today.
This was the first time a home minister or a senior Union minister paid a visit to this border post.
The home minister also instructed the ITBP personnel, in the presence of the forces Director General (DG), R K Pachnanda, to find out ways to rotate the troops at such high-altitude posts in less than three months time. Currently, the troops are rotated every three months.
This would enhance the operational efficiency of the personnel and also reduce the instances of mountain-related sickness among them, he said.
“A project is underway to connect all the border outposts along the Sino-India border with roads,” Singh said, addressing the ITBP jawans and officers.
He added that while a number of border posts had already been connected with roads, many more would be linked soon.
“I have come here to see the conditions in which the ITBP jawans are guarding the Sino-India border,” the minister said.
Wishing the personnel of the border guarding force a happy new year, Singh talked about his idea of reducing the current three months time of rotating the troops at such arduous and tough posts.
“I will urge the ITBP to find ways and see how can we reduce the time period of deployment of troops, from three months to the least possible, as a lot of time is also spent on commuting to and from such hard areas,” he said.
Heaping praise on the jawans and officers of the force, the home minister said any amount of facilities provided to them would be less, considering the challenging terrain and nature they had to deal with.
He added that the Centre had recently decided that the light-weight, special winter clothing, which was earlier provided to the troops posted at an altitude of above 14,000 feet, would now also be provided to the jawans posted at a height of over 9,000 feet.
Snow scooters, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and mountaineering equipment were also being provided to the jawans, Singh said.
Talking about the incidents of Chinese incursion, he said the ITBP was successful in preventing such incidents.
“China is our neighbouring country and we have good relations with them. India has always tried to maintain good relations with its neighbours,” the home minister said.
Stating that there were some “perceptional differences” with China regarding the Sino-India border, he said, “There had been some face-offs with China, but no such incident had occurred in the recent past.”
India had never been expansionist, Singh said, adding that the country simply wanted to remain secure like any other country in the world.
“China is a growing economy and India is also the fastest-growing economy in the world. So, it is obvious that that these two countries would not want a tussle between them,” he said.
Asked about the ITBP jawans being taught the Mandarin language, Singh said a working knowledge of it would be useful for them in case of a face-off with the Chinese troops.
The ITBP was raised in the aftermath of the Chinese aggression of 1962 and is tasked with guarding the 3,488-km- long Sino-India border.
On the appointment of an interlocutor (special representative) on Jammu and Kashmir and whether the Hurriyat Conference would take part in the talks convened by him, Singh said the interlocutor was given a free hand and that he was doing a good job.
“Our neighbour, Pakistan, does not stop its activities, but the jawans of our Army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police are doing their duty very well,” he added.