New Delhi: The Indo-Tibetan Border Police has operationalised its newly sanctioned twin commands in Chandigarh and Guwahati that supervise the deployment of its troops along the 3,488 km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. An order issued from the headquarters of the force here on June 3 said: "an imperative need is felt to make these establishments functional immediately." Officials said the recent standoff between Indian and Chinese forces in the Ladakh area and other parts of the LAC is a major reason for the quick initiation of the two commands - western headquartered at Chandigarh and eastern at Guwahati - stipulated to be headed by an Additional Director General (ADG) rank officer, equivalent to a Lt Gen in the Army. The about 90,000 personnel-strong force has also recently "reinforced" its strength in the border areas owing to the standoff with the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA). The two commands were sanctioned by the Union government in October last year for better operational functioning of the about 35-38 battalions of the force deployed at the China LAC, starting from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. The order said ITBP Inspector General (operations) M S Rawat will take over the charge of the western command in Chandigarh with immediate effect "in the capacity of ADG." He will continue to hold his charge of IG (operations, intelligence and veterinary) till a new incumbent is posted, the order said. Another IG rank officer will similarly head the Guwahati-based eastern command, they said, adding, the force is posting more officials there to fully activate it. The commands will streamline operations, intelligence, deployment and administrative movements of ITBP personnel to the border regions and also bring better synergy with the Army that secures the LAC, they said. Officials said as the force currently has no ADG rank officer posted with it, IG rank officers are being deputed to officiate in the ADG post. There are three ADG posts in the force at present and none is occupied as the Delhi High Court has ordered a stay on the appointment of Indian Police Service (IPS) officers to paramilitary or Central Armed Police Forces in the rank of Inspector General and above, a senior official said. The ITBP also has no officer from its cadre in the rank of ADG at present and departmental promotion committee meetings in this context are pending, the official said. The Union cabinet had sanctioned the two commands and about 60 posts in the officer ranks to the 90,000 personnel strong force in October last year that included two ADG rank posts. The western command will have control over ITBP deployments in the Dehradun-based Northern Frontier that have Shimla, Dehradun and Bareilly sectors and the North-West Frontier, that was shifted from Chandigarh to Leh in April last year and has sectors in Srinagar and Ladakh. The ITBP Leh frontier is headed by an Inspector General-rank officer who is equivalent to a Major General of the Army. Leh also houses the XIV Corps of the Army that was raised in the aftermath of the 1999 Kargil war. The eastern command will look after ITBP deployment in the northern frontier and the north-eastern frontier. The ITBP is trained for mountain warfare and its troops were present along with the Army during the recent standoff with Chinese forces in the Ladakh area. It undertakes short-range and long haul patrols along the LAC as part of its mandate to guard the icy Himalayan front marred by incidents of transgressions between the two countries due to differing perception of the border region.
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