Govt to phase out SSB cadre

New Delhi: The government has decided to phase out a non-uniformed cadre comprising 4,000 personnel which was created to work in border areas in the wake of Chinese aggression in 1962 and worked under Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) till 2001.

The cadre is at present part of the paramilitary Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) which guards Indian borders with Nepal and Bhutan.

The personnel in these units help the force gather intelligence and earn public goodwill, an essential necessity for operational purposes in and around border villages and towns.

"Yes I agree it's a dying cadre because in certain places the progression of their careers has been slightly stunted.... It (complete phase out) will take some time. There are about 4,000 people in this cadre," SSB chief Pranay Sahay said when asked if the cadre would be abolished.

Sahay said according to government policy these personnel can get enrolled into "combat ranks" after they pass the mandatory rules of physical fitness and ability but not many people have opted for it.

"There will be no combatisation (of the civilian cadre).... as it is a laid down policy of the government that it will not be done without the consent of the individual," the SSB Director General said.

The cadre, for the last 48 years, has been working in insurgency hit areas along the border and recently in Naxal-hit states, undertaking civic welfare programmes like teaching children in schools, conducting medical camps and organising vocational training courses.

"They won sympathy and praise for the force wherever they worked. They worked on the policy that welfare and police action should go hand-in-hand so that locals have a sense of belonging for the country," a senior SSB officer said.

The cadre worked under the command of RAW in the Cabinet Secretariat till 2001 after which SSB became a new armed force under the Union Home Ministry.