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Exfiltration: The new threat to border security
Anil Nair in Ahmedabad | February 21, 2007 10:31 IST
Better jobs and fat pay packages in the Middle East are luring Indians and Bangladeshi's to slip into Pakistan through the Western border. Dubbed exfiltration in military jargon, this is posing a new and serious threat to the border security of India and Pakistan, Border Security Force (BSF) officials in Gujarat have said.
In 2006, the BSF caught 42 men who were trying to sneak out of India by foot into Pakistan, taking the number to 80 in the past two years, BSF officials said.
Compared to exfiltrators, the number of infiltrators caught in the past two years is around 70, they added.
"The exfiltrators were caught trying to enter Pakistan through either the Great Rann of Kutch and Haji Pir (Gujarat) or Munabao in Barmer district of Rajasthan," Inspector General of BSF Gujarat, Rajinder Singh, said.
At times, these men walked for days to get close to the international border and cross over to Pakistan thinking that it is an easy route to go the to Middle East as job seekers, he said.
Some of the exfiltrators were caught posing as cattle grazers; some pretended to be mentally unstable when the security persons caught them loitering near the Great Rann of Kutch.
The Great Rann of Kutch is nearly 1,000 sq miles of flat piece of salty desert land that divides India and Pakistan.
Interrogation has revealed that many of the exfiltrators were Indian Muslims while some were Bangladeshis living in clusters in Gujarat.
"Many of them travel all the way from Bangladesh to enter Pakistan via India", Singh said.
Indian intelligence officials have detained some for questioning regarding their real intention to move across the border.
Officials are also aware about certain prominent places of worship that they say are meeting grounds for such people.
"Vigilance has been heightened along the entire border. Modern monitoring and communication equipment has been given to the soldiers," Singh said.
The number of Border Outposts is also increasing and the work on fencing and floodlighting is underway.
Unwanted elements moving along the Rann area are tracked by their footprints by the intelligence network of BSF and local police, officials said, adding some of them try and make a dash if the floodlights fail for a while.
BSF intelligence officials said some exfiltrators also come to Munnabao (the last railway station of India from the western side) from Jodhpur and try to use the newly begun 'Thar Express' that goes to Khokhrapar in Pakistan.
The BSF recently made its first catch of smugglers who tried to use the 'Thar Express' when they nabbed a Pakistani who was travelling with counterfeit Indian currency.
Lack of complete fencing in the 340km long Indo-Pak border along Gujarat is another reason why people move across the two neighbouring countries despite tight vigil in the highly sensitive zone.
The three-layered fencing along the arduous border region that began in 2003, has proved to be a deterrent for both infiltrators and exfiltrators, BSF officials said. Work on the unfenced area of 190km is expected to be over by 2008.
The BSF is also working in quick pace with various agencies to complete the floodlighting. While work in 85 km is over, the same is on to floodlight 153 km of the area.