As the name suggests, BSF is entrusted with defending the borders of India and preventing trans-border crimes. It is often called as India’s “first line of defence”. But with time, it has been given the additional duties like election duty, counter-naxal and counter terrorism operations, guarding vital installations, VIP security, etc. The head of the BSF is of the rank Director General, and is an IPS officer.
Till 1965 India’s borders with Pakistan were manned by the State Armed Police Battalion. Pakistan attacked Sardar Post, Chhar Bet and Beria Bet on 9 April, 1965 in Kutch. This exposed the inadequacy of the State Armed Police to cope with armed aggression due to which the Government of India felt the need for a specialized centrally controlled Border Security Force, which would be armed and trained to man the International Border with Pakistan. As a result of the recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries, the Border Security Force came into existence on 01 Dec 1965. The headquarter of BSF, known as Force Headquarters, is situated at New Delhi. BSF has its own Air & Marine wings and also Artillery Regiment.
Since then, BSF has taken part in 1971 India-Pakistan War, Operation Blue Star, Operation Black Thunder, Operation Vijay (Kargil War) and various skirmishes with Pakistan. BSF has also taken part in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations in Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab and other states too.
The tasks of the BSF are divided as follows:
- Peace time
- Promote a sense of security among the people living in the border areas.
- Prevent trans border crimes, unauthorized entry into or exit from the territory of India.
- Prevent smuggling and any other illegal activity.
- In the last few years the BSF has, in addition to their duties, been deployed for counter insurgency and internal security duties
- War Time:
- Holding ground in less threatened sectors so long as the main attack does not develop in a particular sector and it is felt that the local situation is within the capability of BSF to deal with. The BSF units can continue to remain deployed in particular sector even in a war situation to release the Army for offensive tasks. In the even of a major attack developing, which is not within the capacity of the BSF to deal with, the Army can be expected either to reinforce the BSF with Artillery or other support, or relieve the BSF from its role in the particular sector.
- Protection of vital installations particular air-fields against enemy commandoes/para troopers or raids. The role can be entrusted to the BSF Units which are placed under the Army’s operational Control.
- Providing extension to the flanks of main defence line by the holding of strong points in conjunction with other units.
- Limited Aggressive action against para military or irregular forces of the enemy within the overall plan of the Armed Forces .
- Performing special tasks connected with intelligence including raids. These are tasks which might be entrusted to BSF Units by the Army in a war situation according to local necessity. It would, however, be expected that the state of training and equipment of the particular BSF Units would be kept in view in assessing their adequacy for the tasks.
- Acting as guides in an area of responsibility where routes are known. This is a task which the BSF should be able to perform.
- Maintenance of law and order in enemy territory administrated under the control of Army. Normally, ordinary civil police force would be utilised for this task but the BSF could be used to supplement the civil police or to act in lieu thereof in a situation where civil police is not readily available.
- Provision of escorts.
- Guarding of prisoners of war cages
- Assistance in control of refugees. It is the intention to utilise civil police force and armed Home Guards etc. for these tasks but again depending upon local exigencies, the BSF might be entrusted with these tasks.
- Anti – infiltration duties in specified area. This is an important responsibility which will have to be performed by security forces. The exact responsibility of the BSF in this matter is still under consideration and separate instructions are expected to be issued.
For Wikipedia entry on BSF, click here.
For more articles in Policepedia, click here.