Defence ministry allows BSF to guard India-Myanmar border, but with rider NEW DELHI: The defence ministry (MoD) may have finally agreed to the long-standing demand of the home ministry (MHA) to hand over the India-Myanmar border to the BSF but has made it clear the Army will retain operational control over the Assam Rifles. The long-running bitter turf war over whether the Assam Rifles or BSF should guard the 1,643km thickly-forested border with Myanmar â€” infested with insurgents, smugglers, drug traffickers and the like â€” even went up to the Cabinet committee on security but could not be "fully resolved" with a "practical" solution till now. But the MoD has now given the green signal for BSF to replace the Assam Rifles - which administratively comes under MHA as a central paramilitary force but is under the Army's operational control â€” in guarding the border if the MHA so wants it. "The MoD, however, held there is no question of turning the Assam Rifles into a border-guarding force. It has a clear-cut role in the overall Army plan against China in the eastern sector, which cannot be diluted," said an official. BSF will, of course, not find it easy to take over the "border management" with Myanmar, both in terms of manpower and infrastructure. "Huge funds will be required for fencing, border outposts, roads, tracks and helipads as well as the raising of 41 new BSF battalions," said another official. But the MHA contends the Assam Rifles, with its deployment pattern of operating from bases away from the border, has proved ineffective in making the region secure against infiltration attempts by insurgent outfits like NSCN, PLA, UNLF, PREPAK and the like. Conversely, the MoD-Army combine felt the Assam Rifles, with 30% of its troops from the North-East and largely officered by the Army, was specially geared for the task of both border management as well as counter-insurgency in the region. While 15 of its battalions are currently deployed along the border, the other 31 are engaged in anti-militancy operations in the hinterland. Turf battles and lack of synergy among different forces have long been the problem along Indian borders, especially the long unresolved ones with Pakistan and China. The Army, for instance, has for long been demanding operational control over the ITBP, another of the seven central police forces under the MHA, for better management of the Line of Actual Control with China in eastern Ladakh, as reported by TOI earlier. Incidentally, both the Border Management Task Force and the high-powered Group of Ministers' report on "reforming the national security system" after the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan had stressed the "One Border-One Force" principle. "Multiplicity of forces on the same borders has inevitably led to the lack of accountability as well as problems of command and control," held the GoM report. Defence ministry allows BSF to guard India-Myanmar border, but with rider - The Times of India ******************************************************************* How will it impinge on India's security on the Indo Myanmar border that is porous and a conduit for supplies to insurgents and variois other illegal activities perpetrators.