Madhukar Gupta Committee on Indo-Pak border

The Government of India (GoI) constituted a high level committee under the chairmanship of former home secretary Sri Madhukar Gupta.

The committee has been mandated to suggest ways to strengthen border protection and address the issue of gaps and vulnerability in border fencing along the India-Pakistan border.

The committee was constituted in the backdrop of the recent incident of Pathankot Airbase Attack that originated from the other side of the border.

Recent incidents of border violation by terrorist elements:

• On March 20 last year, two heavily armed terrorists in army uniform had stormed a police station on Jammu-Pathankote highway in Kathua, near the Indo-Pak border, killing five people. 

• On July 27 last year, three terrorists in army fatigue had attacked Dinanagar police station in Punjab's Gurdaspur district and killed three civilians and four policemen, including a Superintendent of Police. 

• On 2 January 2016, a heavily armed group attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, part of the Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force. Four attackers and two security forces personnel were killed in the initial battle, with an additional security force member dying from injuries hours later.

Present apparatus to deal with the security scenario :

• In the west, the entire border with Pakistan is manned by the BSF except the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). 

• The LoC is the responsibility of the army with some BSF battalions placed under its operational control.

• Ideally, border management should be the responsibility of the Ministry of Home Affairs during peacetime. However, the active nature of the LoC has compelled the army to permanently deploy large forces for this task.

The criticism labeled against the present architecture:

• Normally the principle of ‘single point control’ is exercised in case of border management, however, the operational hazard has necessitated this dived responsibility. This often results into ineffective and inefficient handling of the border issues.

Despite sharing the responsibility with several para-military and police forces, the army’s commitment for border management amounts to six divisions along the LAC, the LoC and the AGPL in J&K and five divisions along the LAC and the Myanmar border in the eastern sector. This is a massive commitment that is costly in terms of manpower as well as funds, as the deployment areas are mostly in high altitude terrain, and needs to be reduced gradually.

• Experts have also identified the following lacunae in border management:

1. deployment of multiple forces in the same area of operations;

2. lack of any doctrinal concepts; designed for a ‘fire fighting’ approach rather than a ‘fire prevention’ or proactive approach;

3. based on a strategy of ‘reaction and retaliation’ rather than on holistic response to a situation, resulting in stress and decision-making problems at the functional level;

4. wastage of energy and efforts; and

5. lack of coordination and synergy between the security management organizations.