Leh/New Delhi: The Home Ministry is likely to oppose a proposal of the Defence Ministry seeking "operational control" of Indo-Tibetan Border Police manning
over 4,000 kilometres of the country`s boundary with China in three different states.
The move by the Army through the Ministry is reported to have come after alleged differences with the ITBP in Leh sector earlier this year when the para-military force refused to withdraw from the Line of Actual Control following presence
of Chinese troops in Nyoma sector.
While the Home Ministry is officially quiet on the issue, sources said it was firmly of the view that such a move would be detrimental not only to the morale of the jawans of ITBP who have been performing their duties in utmost difficult
terrain, but will also lead to confusion among the ranks of the para-military force.
They said at a meeting held recently, the Home and External Affairs ministries found themselves on the same page and were of the view that this will unnecessarily complicate issues along the LAC with China.
The Army officials, while moving the fresh proposal, had cited the aggressive patrolling across the LAC and said that handing over the operational control would help in better border management.
However, ITBP, which has nearly four battalions in Leh, has also been opposing any such move. ITBP maintains all its forward posts in higher reaches along the border with China at tri-junction located at a height of 22,420 feet in Mount Gya.
The border posts manned by ITBP are exposed to storms, snow blizzards, avalanches, and landslides, besides the hazards of high altitude and extremely cold climate, where temperature dips up to minus 40 degree Celsius.
The para-military force conducts long and short range patrols to keep an effective vigil on inaccessible and unmanned areas on the border.
Central security agencies operating in Leh town have also reported to the Ministry of Home Affairs that any move to give operation control of ITBP would not be a wise decision as this would further increase the burden on the jawans of the
para-military force who spend 80 percent of their tenure in high altitudes, the sources said.
The move of the Army for gaining operational control of ITBP was not the first time. Earlier in 2004-05, the Army had moved the proposal but was rejected by the Government.
During the recent meeting, officials stated that Assam Rifles, which has the operational control of Army, should be brought under complete control the Home Ministry.
"While we should be aligning the forces for internal security management with the Home Ministry, handing over the control of ITBP was a far-fetched idea," a senior official said.
A recommendation made by the Group of Ministers, set up after the Kargil war to review all aspects of security, of handing over Assam Rifles to the MHA which assumes sole responsibility for maintaining internal security was also
discussed during the meeting.