Amid rising border tensions with China, the union cabinet has reportedly approved a long-standing Rs11,000 crore plan to modernise the central armed police forces - including the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), which mainly guards the Indo-China border.
The government has at the same time firmly turned down the Army's demand that it should be given operational control of the ITBP, according to The Times of India.
According to the report, the centre would instead prefer to modernise the paramilitary force by providing it more sophisticated arms, ammunition, night vision devices, patrolling equipment and vehicles to cover the inhospitable terrain along the border.
The ITBP was once an elite force of crack mountain commandos with higher training levels than the regular Army. However, it has over the years become a poor cousin of the Army, because it is directly under the control of the home ministry.
The firm refusal to hand over control is thus seen as counter-productive – the once all-important home ministry has for some time now been run by career bureaucrats, keen to maintain certain armed forces like the ITBP, Assam Rifles, BSF and CISF under civillian control to foil the defence forces from unwarranted moves within the country.
"There are glaring deficiencies in the ITBP deployment posture along the Line of Actual Control, along with a sub-optimal weapons profile and limitations in reacting to operational contingencies. The Army's peacetime control over ITBP will assist in a coordinated response, better training, operational preparedness and transition to hot war when required," a senior Army officer said, according to the ToI report.
The money infusion is meant for all paramilitary forces, including the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Central Industrial Security Force, the National Security Guard, and the Assam Rifles. It was approved by the cabinet committee on security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.