India`s neighbourhood troubled: Chidambaram

Home Minister P Chidambaram said countries in the region had govts that were "extremely fragile".

Updated: May 21, 2011, 15:59 PM IST

New Delhi: Describing India`s immediate neighbourhood as "troubled", Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said countries in the region had governments that were "extremely fragile", posing threats to India`s security and independence.

Without naming any country, Chidambaram said the current situation in the region increased the threats faced by India and called upon security forces to defend the country`s independence, sovereignty and security.

"We live in perhaps the most troubled neighbourhood in the world. In this troubled neighbourhood, there are countries with governments that are extremely fragile," he said at a Border Security Force (BSF) event here.

"All of this increases the threat to our security and independence. I call upon all security forces to defend our independence, sovereignty and security. We will provide the best training, equipment and working conditions that we can provide," he told the gathering after presenting gallantry and distinguished service medals to BSF officers and men.

Noting that the BSF was raised to defend India`s western and eastern borders, the home minister said it was India`s first line of defence against enemy troops.

Over the years, Chidambaram said, the border guarding force`s role had been expanded; it had been roped into fighting "terrorism in Punjab, insurgency in the North-East, militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and now the menace of Maoism in central India".

With this, the force had gained "vast experience" in border management, counter-insurgency, anti-militancy operations, security during elections and disaster management.

In its new tasks, especially the fight against Maoism, the BSF was projecting "a humane face" by providing people in the affected areas "a sense of security" and by involving them in intelligence gathering. But all of this was being done without suffering "any human collateral damage".

Chidambaram said the government was willingly providing money to better the equipment, training and working conditions of the BSF troops. "There are gaps... more can be done."

Recalling the 1,658 BSF men who lost their lives in the line of duty since the inception of the force in 1965, the home minister said their sacrifice was "a constant reminder of what these officer and men do as we live and work during the day and sleep peacefully in the night".

BSF Director General Raman Srivastava, who welcomed the gathering, said his troops were now playing an important role in areas hit by Left-wing extremism and in counter-insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, apart from guarding the borders.