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All gaps on India’s border fences will be covered by 2022: Amit Shah

Shah said that before the Modi government came to power, India lacked a national security policy, which now aims at paying the enemy back in the same coin.

Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday said all gaps on India’s border fences will be covered by 2022 to ensure comprehensive security. He said before the Narendra Modi government came to power, India lacked a national security policy, which now aims at paying the enemy back in the same coin.

“Nobody wants to leave gaps in the fences. But if on a 200-km long fence you leave a gap of 1.5 km, the entire stretch of the fence becomes useless. We have worked on filling these gaps by removing roadblocks at the administrative level and even spoken to neighbouring countries. Surmounting all difficulties, I assure you that before 2022, there will be no gaps left in our fencing,” Shah said.

Shah was delivering the Rustamji Memorial Lecture at the Investiture Ceremony organised by the BSF at Vigyan Bhawan.

Shah said even before he came into politics, he always thought about border security.

“I always wondered whether this government had any national security policy. Until Narendra Modi became PM, we did not have an independent national security policy. It was influenced by foreign policy or overruled by foreign policy. When Narendra Modi government came, we said we want peace with everyone but if anyone messes with our borders or our sovereignty, then the priority of the national security policy is that it should be answered in the same language,” Shah said, adding that he did not want to give examples as everyone knew what he was talking about.

In the backdrop of recent drone attacks in Jammu, Shah said, “Our mission against drone threats has become very important today. DRDO and other agencies are already working to come up with adequate defence systems against drones. Very soon we will be protecting our borders with indigenous defence systems.”

BSF DG Rakesh Asthana said that in the past one year, BSF had spotted 61 drones coming from across the border and detected four tunnels. He said the force had killed 22 infiltrators, caught 632 kg of drugs and recovered weapons on the western border.

Shah cautioned the forces against future challenges. “We have to accept the challenge that Artificial Intelligence and robotics will be used (by forces) from across the border. We are already pushing research and development on drones. But we need to focus on these challenges as well in the long term,” he said.

He said the forces needed to prepare themselves according to the challenges and use technology as much as possible. He also asked senior officers to take responsibility to find solutions to the challenges and get out of inertia.

The home minister also suggested that border security had been ignored for many years.

“There must have been some compulsions. Priorities may have been different. But for a long time there was no thought given to comprehensive border security (in India). When the Atal Behari Vajpayee government came to power, it was given the much-needed impetus. One border one force principle was accepted and each force was given specific borders. Their needs were addressed on priority,” Shah said.

According to Shah, infiltration, human trafficking, drugs, arms and cow smuggling, tunnels and drones were big challenges but expressed confidence that forces would tide over them.

“BSF has not only found tunnels but got a forensic study done to ascertain their make and how many people may have travelled through them. We are ensuring no more tunnels are dug into India from across the border. We are also coming up with new fences which will be very difficult to cut through,” Shah said.

Shah said that the Modi government had prioritised border infrastructure. “The PM believes until the border infrastructure is strengthened, our forces will not be able to protect the borders properly. It will also lead to continued migration out of border areas and that will jeopardise border security. Border Area Development Programme has been sanctioned Rs 888 crore and the work has already started,” he said, requesting BSF personnel to make efforts to stop migration out of border villages.

Giving details of the work done by his government, Shah said, “Between 2008 and 2014, road construction was 3,600 km. It increased to 4,764 km in 2014-20. The budget for road construction was increased from Rs 23,000 crore to 44,000 crore. Between 20018 and 2014, total bridge construction stood at 7,270 m. Between 2014 and 2020, it stood at 14,450 m. In six years (of UPA) only one tunnel was constructed. We have already inaugurated six tunnels and work on 19 tunnels is going on. Road resurfacing too has increased from 170 km per year to 380 km per year between the two periods.”

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