GUWAHATI, Aug 25 - The law and order situation along the international border with Bhutan is now under control with activities of the militants on the wane, but the personnel of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), deployed to guard the international border with Bhutan and Nepal, have to remain alert to thwart cross-border crimes. The personnel of the force also have to remain alert to ensure that no element of anti-India forces manage to sneak into the country by taking advantage of the porous international borders.
Highly placed sources in the SSB told The Assam Tribune that at one point of time, the international border with Bhutan was considered very vulnerable as militant groups, including the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) and Kamatapur Liberation Organization (KLO), had strong bases in the neighbouring country. But the situation has changed after the Government of Bhutan launched an operation to evict the camps of the militants in 2003 and now there is no such camp in that country. There is also no report of movement of any ULFA member along the international border areas. Though there have been reports of movements of small groups of NDFB(S) militants in the bordering areas, the entire area is by and large peaceful.
Sources said that though there is visa-free regime with Bhutan and Nepal, and people from both the countries can visit India without visa, the personnel of the SSB have to remain alert. Sources pointed out that any person from a third country can try to sneak into India through Nepal or Bhutan. The possibility of elements of forces inimical to India trying to sneak into the country through Nepal or Bhutan also cannot be ruled out and that is why, the personnel of the SSB are always on high alert.
However, at the same time, sources admitted that as there is no physical barrier along the international borders with Nepal and Bhutan, it is difficult to keep vigil on every inch of the border. The personnel of the SSB normally keep a close watch on the check posts along the border and the trade routes. The distance between the border outposts of the SSB is around four to five kilometres and because of the terrain, it is not possible for the personnel deployed in one BOP to maintain eye contact with the next. The personnel of the SSB are carrying out regular patrolling along the border, but the possibility of someone sneaking into India unnoticed cannot be ruled out.
A major problem along the border with Nepal is smuggling and human trafficking. There have also been instances where cattle was brought from northern Assam areas to the India-Bangladesh border via Nepal and several such consignments have been seized in recent times. Similar kinds of smuggling also take place from Bhutan and there were instances where criminals from India tried to sneak into Bhutan after committing a crime here.
Sources said that in some places along the border with Nepal and Bhutan, the SSB is the interface between the local people and administration as the areas are quite remote. Considering the necessity of the local people, the SSB personnel organize health camps for these people apart from taking up other civic action programmes, sources added.