The Sino-India border guarding force, ITBP, will soon undertake a big re-organisation of the entire paramilitary and promote hundreds of its officers to enhance its “combat readiness”. With its role getting magnified along the 3,488-km frontier with China owing to rapid enhancement of troops and infrastructure, the paramilitary force has decided to reduce “manpower in non-productive areas and enhancing it wherever required for greater efficiency”.
Hundreds of its officers deployed in a variety of internal security combat roles would be promoted under the first-of-its-kind de-merger exercise.
It will be initiated as the Supreme Court recently paved way for the force to proceed with the de-merger of its cadres that were erroneously merged in 2010 by the Union Home Ministry.
The de-merger exercise, initiated by the force last week, will allow officers recruited in combat cadres take charge of battalions and strike formations in order to provide an effective edge over the enemy, whether at the borders or in the hinterlands against Naxalites.
ITBP chief Krishna Chaudhary confirmed the development to PTI as he said the overall effort of these exercises is to boost troops morale and prepare the formations for an effective rendering of their role.
“The Supreme Court order allowed us to go ahead with the de-merger of cadres and it has come as a huge relief for the force as many personnel and officers were aggrieved by its non-implementation. We have already initiated the plan and hope to accomplish it very soon,” the Director General (DG) said.
Under the merger of cadres scheme in 2010, an officer recruited in the combat stream (called general duty) was merged for seniority and promotions with those who had been recruited in specialist streams of motor driving, telecom, engineering and armorer, thereby posing a serious challenge to the command of the combat units deployed to secure the border.
“Someone recruited to look after the telecom services of the force was made to command a battalion while a combat role officer was looking after other logistics. This was an anomaly that was created after the merger in 2010 which will now be rectified,” a senior officer said.
A petition was subsequently filed by ITBP officers and others in the Delhi High Court challenging the said order and on grounds that such a scheme will adversely affect the overall combat preparedness of the force as it unfairly grants seniority to officers of technical cadre over the general cadre (combat) who are exclusively recruited for the fighting role.
The High Court, in its order in 2015, had said such a system cannot be allowed and rejected it. This was appealed in the apex court which now has refused to give any interim relief against the HC’s directions.
The DG said at least 300-400 officers in the combat ranks of General Duty will be promoted to the next level and posted in command ranks.
Sources said about 150 Assistant Commandants, 230 Deputy Commandants, 40 Second-in-Commands and 30 Commanding Officers will get the benefit of promotion under the new order.
“We are undertaking a full re-organisation of the force. We have dispelled all apprehensions and assured that every cadre will be taken care off and the force will evolve into a more combat-ready organisation,” he said.
Chaudhary said the entire exercise will be “revenue neutral”, which means that no additional financial burden will be undertaken in the execution of it.
“We will be creating some new posts and at the same time will abolish some of the existing ones as they are not required. This re-organisation will be done keeping in mind the challenges that the force foresees for itself in the future,” he said.
The DG has also called for a high-level conference of all his commanders in Delhi soon during which these new measures will be discussed and subsequently implemented.
The 80,000 personnel strong ITBP is not only tasked to secure the Sino-India border but is also deployed to undertake anti-Naxal operations and secure some of the high-risk VVIPs of the country.
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