Narcotic trade concerns Indo-Bhutan border: SSB DG

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Guwahati, Oct 28 (UNI) Sashastra Seema Bal Director General Gopal Sharma today said checking narcotic trade and smuggling of other goods along the open Indo-Bhutan border was the major concern for the central para-military force, along with ensuring a peaceful international border.

Addressing a press conference here, DG Sharma said, ''Drugs and mainly forest products were smuggled along the Indo-Bhutan border in Assam. The SSB is trying its best to contain it.'' To a question on presence of North Eastern militants' camps in Bhutan even after the 'Operation All Clear' in December, 2004, he said it would take some time for him to give the correct information as he had taken over the SSB only this month and was in the process of taking stock of the position.

''I had visited the Bhutan border yesterday and I am in a process of assessing the situation,'' he added.

Pointing that the SSB was in the process of raising new battalions as the responsibility of a dedicated Border Guarding Force was entrusted to it only in 2001, the DG said it was too early to estimate the exact personnel requirement for the force.

At present, the SSB has two wings, the combatised wing consisting of 41 battalions for border guarding role and a civilian component of about 4900 for perception management in the border areas.

Mr Sharma underscored that the SSB was aiming at emerging as a 'people's force' and was working closely with the people in the border areas.

The SSB guards 699 km along the Indo-Bhutan border and 1751 km Indo-Nepal border, spread across the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

It has two frontier headquarters for the Indo-Nepal border at Lucknow and Patna and one for the Indo-Bhutan border at Guwahati.

It was mandated to guard the Indo-Nepal border in 2001 and the Indo-Bhutan border since 2004.

UNI

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