SSB jawans to double up as teachers in border schools

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New Delhi, Mar 25 (UNI) Jawans of Sashtra Seema Bal (SSB), entrusted with guarding the porous Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders, would soon double up as teachers in schools in the border areas where trained teachers are rare.

''Since all our constables are matriculate and above, they can easily teach junior classes in one or even two subjects for a couple of hours,'' SSB DG Gopal Sharma said here. He said jawans can double up as teachers during their duty hours. ''Some of the personnel can be sent down to villages from the border out posts (BoPs) to teach students...it will also not cost us any money,'' he added.

The DG claimed that the move will help the para military outfit develop a closer rapport with the local populace. ''If we teach their children in schools where trained teachers are not availabe, then our men will be treated as their 'gurus' and friends. At a later stage the students we teach today can opt for a career in SSB or any other uniformed service...it is a long term investment,'' he explained.

Another senior SSB official suggested that personnel at the BOPs could buy routine provisions such as vegetables, milk and eggs from villages instead of nearby cities to help the local economy.

''People should feel happy with our presence...we should not been seen as a border guarding force alone but as their true friends,'' the official said.

The SSB's plan to involve the local populace is also aimed at gathering more intelligence also. ''Since the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders are a friendly border not having fencing and have free movement of populace, it always pays to have a good intelligence set up to check anti-national activities and smuggling,'' Mr Sharma said.

Since January, 2001, SSB was declared as a border guarding force and lead intelligence agency (LIA) for Indo-Nepal border and assigned the task of guarding the 1751 km long Indo-Nepal border along the states of Uttarakhand (275 km), Uttar Pradesh (551 km), Bihar (726 km), West Bengal(100 km) and Sikkim (99 km).

From March, 2004, the SSB is also guarding the 699 km border with Bhutan.

The force was set up as the Special Service Bureau in 1963 after the Chinese aggression to work as the first line of defence and train the local populace in case the hostilities broke out again. It was rechristined as Sashtra Seema Bal in March, 2004.

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