MHA approves separate Command for ITBP in Ladakh

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Sept 28: In a significant decision to keep check on the activities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cleared a proposal to set up separate new Command of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in Leh to boost strength and infrastructure of the paramilitary forces.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has cleared the proposal of separate Command for the ITBP at Leh after his three days recent visit to Leh from September 21 to 23 during which he had visited several forward posts along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, manned by the ITBP.
Official sources told the Excelsior that this will be a completely new Command under the banner of `Ladakh Command’ and work on setting up its Headquarters at Leh would start soon. Presently, the ITBP was getting supplies and manpower in Ladakh from its nearest Chandigarh Command. With ITBP getting full fledged Command in Leh, its strength along the LAC with China would go up manifold.
Earlier, Army had also raised a demand for setting up of separate Command in Ladakh. However, the Defence Ministry hadn’t approved the demand. Army’s 14 Corps in Leh comes under the command of Udhampur-based Northern Command. The 14 Corps was set up in Leh after 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan.
The setting up of new ITBP Command in Leh has also set at rest the speculation of Army gaining control over the ITBP.
Sources said with the MHA, which controls all paramilitary forces in the country, the process of setting up over 40 modern Border Out Posts of the ITBP in the icy heights of Ladakh along with LAC with China, has been initiated.
The ITBP mans 4,086 kilometers long Sino-Indian border from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.
As per the proposal approved by the MHA, the Ladakh Command of the ITBP will be headed by an officers of the rank of Inspector General.
ITBP, which is the first point of response to any incursion by the PLA, earlier had a Frontier headquarter headed by two Deputy Inspector Generals based at Leh and Srinagar. Both these officers reported to an Inspector General based at Chandigarh Command.
“The Government accepted the demand of the ITBP for creation of a Sector Command in Leh to facilitate taking decisions at crucial times without any loss of time after three days long visit by the Union Home Minister in Leh during which he inter-acted with top ITBP officials including its Director General Krishan Choudhary, Field Commanders and jawans manning the forward posts,” sources said.
“The Inspector General’s office has been shifted from Chandigarh to Ladakh where the Army Corps Commander sits. This has been done for better coordination between the two forces present to secure the China border areas,” sources said.
The Army, which carved out a separate Corps after the Kargil intrusion in 1999, had been demanding operational control over the ITBP, which has been time and again rejected by the Government on the ground that the ITBP had been effectively manning the LAC with China.
Sources said work has also been initiated for setting up 40 Border Out Posts of the ITBP in mountain locked Ladakh to be manned by ITBP jawans who guard the border of the country in hostile weather at many places where the mercury slips to minus 40 degrees celsius.
Ladakh has been very crucial from strategic view point for India as on one side the troops had to guard snow clad Siachen with Pakistan while the ITBP mans the LAC with China in extreme hostile weather conditions.
Sources said the Government of India’s decision to strengthen ITBP in Ladakh was aimed at meeting two hostile neighbours-Pakistan and China-at one time.
“In case of attack by both the countries simultaneously, India didn’t want to take any chance and that is why, it has decided to strengthen the ITBP further,” sources said.


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