NEW DELHI, Sept 28 - The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by the Prime Minister is likely to take a final call on the proposal to replace Assam Rifles with Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) following the Home Ministry�s reservation over the move.
According to sources, the Union Home Ministry has red flagged the proposal submitted by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) chief RN Ravi on handling of security along the porous Myanmar border. The Home Ministry has red-flagged the suggestion saying that replacing the entire Assam Rifles force from the border could have serious �financial and security-related implications.�
The JIC chief reportedly favours replacing the Assam Rifles by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Ravi�s proposal is more or less in the line with a similar strategy mooted during the UPA regime and backed by the then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to hand over the border guarding duty to the Border Security Force (BSF). The proposal was opposed by the Assam Rifles then.
Sources familiar with the development said that the final decision will now be taken by the high-powered CCS, which also includes Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
India and Myanmar share an unfenced border of 1,643 km adjoining Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland (215 km), Manipur (398 km) and Mizoram (510 km) and permit a �free movement� regime upto 16 kms across the border.
The need to reassess security along the border was realised when militants belonging to the Khaplang faction of NSCN-K ambushed and killed 18 Army jawans in Chandel district of Manipur in June, which left the security forces shaken. Though a committee headed by Ravi had been constituted by the Home Ministry, the Manipur incident was a wake-up call for the government.
The Assam Rifles is under operational control of the Defence Ministry, while its administrative control is with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The MHA feels that it was not feasible to replace the entire Assam Rifles from the border since they have spent considerable years there. Putting in a new force would also lead to security implications. Besides, huge finance would also be required to raise new battalions of the ITBP, as we cannot pull all of them from the China border and deploy them here,� said a senior government official.