National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval is grappling with a face-off between the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Army.
The Army has objected to the government’s plan to build a raised embankment along the 179-km stretch of the international border (IB) in Jammu district, a senior Home Ministry official told The Hindu.
The plan for the embankment (better known as ditch-cum-bund) was cleared in 2013 by the then UPA government after the twin terror attacks in the Hiranagar/Samba sector the same year. Around 20 per cent land has been acquired for the project, being implemented by the MHA. The raised embankment will be constructed under the supervision of the Border Security Force (BSF).
At a recent meeting between Army Chief General Dalbir Singh and Mr. Doval, the government has been asked to rethink the entire project.
“The Army believes that in case of an emergency, this embankment will affect their operations and restrict their forward movement. The Army already mans another embankment, a few kilometres behind the IB,” said a senior MHA official.
Another official said the BSF has also been asked to submit a detailed report on why the project should go ahead.
A final decision will be taken by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the proposal is pending with the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
The proposed embankment will be 41 metres wide and 10 metres high and will accommodate bunkers and border outposts. The project would cover 118 villages in the three districts of Kathua, Samba and Jammu, which are located along the international border.
On MHA’s request, the Jammu and Kashmir government initiated the land acquisition process in Jammu district.
The Jammu sector has witnessed 589 ceasefire violations from Pakistan’s side since May 2014, when the NDA government came to power, till August 20 this year. The same period saw 95 infiltration attempts from the Jammu border.
This is the same project over which Pakistan complained to the U.N. Security Council a few days ago. Pakistan’s Ambassador to U.N., Maleeha Lodhi, in a letter to the President of the Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, alleged that India was planning to construct a “wall” along the border, which it called a working boundary to convert it “into a quasi international border”.