Event ReportsPublished on Nov 23, 2013
Though infiltration from Pakistan is of great concern, those from Bangladesh in the form of illegal migrants pose a more serious threat to the nation, according to Lt-Gen (Retd) Anand Verma, former Director-General of Military Operations.
Infiltration from Bangladesh more dangerous than from Pakistan: Ex-DGMO
"Only a political dialogue can put an end to border issues between India and Pakistan," according to Lt-Gen (Retd) Anand Verma, former Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO).

He said this while initiating a discussion on "Border violations from Pakistan" at the Chennai Chapter of Observer Research Foundation (ORF-C) on November 23, 2013.

Lt. Gen. Varma highlighted several factors such as shared borders, ceasefire agreements and violations, and also infiltration, from the perspective of a veteran army commander.

He spoke of a secret Pakistani operation called Tupac, which was intended to create insurgency in parts of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, with secession as the motive. The operation in the Eighties had three stages -- cut off all communication to the State from the rest of India, followed by pressure on the Siachen which was done with the help of terrorists and finally secession proper.

Infiltrators from Pakistan were an 'irregular army' of that country, and the funds allocated to them are not subject to any Government audit, he pointed out. While the ISI and the Army were behind the infiltrations, the political masters in that country were well aware of the same, Lt Gen Varma said. He attributed such a pro-active role of the Pakistani Army to a history of military rulers in that country, post-Independence.

"Asia's Berlin Wall"

Lt. Gen. Varma detailed the types of borders India shares with Pakistan and the claims by both sides regarding each other's presence, starting with the post-Partition situation, when Pakistani 'irregulars' were beaten back. He referred to the 'Shimla Agreement' of 1972, signed by the two countries after the 'Bangladesh War', and also mentioned the Indian territories occupied by Pakistan and those it gave away to China. He pointed out how the Line of Control (LoC) ran through several villages on the Indian side and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and dubbed it "Asia's Berlin Wall".

Lt. Gen Varma explained the responsibilities of Border Security Force (BSF) along the borders. He said the borders are separated by barbed wire fencing, with a high-voltage wire running between them. The area is also very well lit, facilitating troops along the border to patrol efficiently. Yet, infiltration has become possible because of the absence of border-fencing at some points, owing to the terrain.

Ceasefire violations

While providing statistics regarding the number of ceasefire violations by Pakistan, Gen Varma pointed out that the figure was on the rise this year compared to the previous one. The speaker said that in 1948 and 1971 border intrusions were orchestrated with a motive to instigate secessionism among the people of Jammu and Kashmir. He said Pakistan has often fired mortars into the Indian territory. He cited other reasons such as provocation by one side, construction of outposts or mobilisation of troops. He also said retaliation for past incidents is also one of the reasons that can be attributed for these violations.

He also made special and detailed references to various ceasefire agreements between the two countries. Landmark ones such as Tashkent Agreement signed in 1966 which put a halt to the 1965 war was also discussed. He also noted that India captured 92,000 prisoners of war (POWs) in the 1971 'Bangladesh War', and how their return was an important aspect of the 'Shimla Agreement' a year later.


Discussing infiltrations from Pakistan, Lt. Gen Varma said that since the border in the Indian side has been strengthened, infiltrators were pursuing other means - either through the seas, or accessing India through neighbouring countries like Nepal. Though Infiltration from Pakistan is of great concern, those from Bangladesh in the form of illegal migrants pose a more serious threat to the nation, he said. Smuggling of goods essential for the Kashmir Valley is often sent through Pakistani territory.

Since the border forces and outposts have been strengthened, infiltrations do not happen as frequently as it happened in the Eighties. However, Lt. Gen. Varma noted, infiltrators were more sophisticated now and use GPS and night-vision equipment to intrude into Indian territory. Even with heavy fencing, intruders manage to get past by digging tunnels underground. He said there were also guides on either side who identify and provide safe havens to terrorists infiltrating into Indian borders.

The Indian Army has also upgraded its arsenal and has begun using UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) for military intelligence, he said. The collective opinion of the informed gathering was that the local army commanders in those sensitive areas till date maintain moral ascendancy, which works in favour of the Indian Army.

(This report is prepared by Ramalingam Va, B.A.2nd year, (Journalism & Mass Communication), S R M University, Chennai)

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