Published On: Wed, Oct 3rd, 2018

Govt to take final call on transfer of 2,000 SSB staffers to IB this week

New Delhi: The government is expected to take a final call soon on the transfer of a “dying” cadre of about 2,000 personnel of the Sashastra Seema Bal to Intelligence Bureau to bolster the latter’s on-ground presence at India’s eastern borders with China, Nepal and other countries, sources said Wednesday.

The proposal was first mooted by NSA Ajit Doval about two years ago.

They said Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba will hold a meeting this week with IB Director Rajiv Jain and newly appointed Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) chief S S Deswal.

According to the Home Ministry’s records accessed by PTI, the agenda of the meeting is to discuss and finalise the long-drawn issue of “transfer of civil wing of SSB to IB”.

Deswal, who took charge as the SSB Director General on September 30, also held consultations with his senior officers at the forces’ headquarters here on Wednesday and elicited views of the civilian cadre on the proposed transfer.

“A number of personnel of the civilian cadre are in favour of getting transferred to the IB and this has been conveyed to the new DG,” a senior official privy to the development said.

The news agency had first reported in September last year that the proposal is a work in progress and 2,765 posts of the civilian cadre of the SSB will be shifted to the IB in the coming days.

Of these posts, around 2,030 are operational.

A government blueprint prepared in this context had said that “the civil wing of the SSB should be transferred to the IB lock, stock and barrel, including land, physical infrastructure, equipment among others”.

The proposal was first mooted by National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval about two years ago.

The manpower of the civil wing of the SSB is termed as “dying” as it does not have any substantial promotional and work avenues.

Officials said the idea is to deploy them and use their expertise to strengthen the IB’s presence in the eastern border areas along China, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, where these officials have worked for long.

The men and women of this cadre were seen as fast losing their sheen as they were not getting timely promotions and could not opt for combat posts as their physical fitness did not allow them to perform arduous tasks and their recruitment rules were different from those of the uniformed staffers.

The average age of the personnel in this cadre is above 50 years.

Their task was not only to help the border population in integrating with the mainstream, but to also act as the “eyes and ears” of the SSB, the designated lead intelligence agency on the two borders.

The cadre was first raised in 1963, in the aftermath of the Chinese aggression of the previous year, to work in the border areas and promote a sense of national belonging and pro-India feelings among the local population.

It worked under the external intelligence agency –Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) — till 2001, under the name Special Service Bureau.

The name of the force was changed to Sashastra Seema Bal in 2003, following the 1999 Kargil conflict. It was then tasked with guarding the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders on the country’s eastern flank.

The blueprint envisages that once these officials are transferred to the IB, they will be “utilised for different activities related to intelligence, keeping in view the expertise and proficiency of the incumbents”.

The SSB, with a strength of about 80,000 personnel, has been guarding the 1,751-km Indo-Nepal border since 2001 and the 699-km Indo-Bhutan border since 2004.

It is deployed along the international border in the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, with many of its posts located close to the Sino-India border.

PTI

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