The Border Security Force (BSF) is India’s principal border guarding force, entrusted with securing the country’s international borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh. Until 1965, India’s borders with Pakistan were patrolled by police personnel from Indian states that bordered Pakistan. The committee of secretaries established in the aftermath of the 1965 Indo-Pak War suggested the creation of a specialised centrally controlled Border Security Force that would be equipped and trained to patrol the International Border with Pakistan. As a result, on December 1, 1965, the Border Security Force (BSF) was established.
Role of the BSF
- The role of the BSF is distinct during times of peace and war.
- During peacetime, its duties include:
- Preventing cross-border crimes and unlawful entry into or exit from the territory of India.
- Preventing any illegal activities like smuggling across the borders.
- Encourage a feeling of security among the people residing in the border areas.
- To help state and union territory administration in the maintenance of law and order and with anti-insurgency operations.
- During wartime, its duties include:
- Defending important installations of the country, particularly airfields, from enemy commandos, paratroopers, or raids, in less-threatened sectors as long as the situation is within the BSF’s competence.
- Keeping prisoners of war safe. Maintaining law and order in enemy areas under Army control, taking limited aggressive action against enemy irregular elements or paramilitary formations if necessary.
BSF Role Beyond Protecting India’s Borders
BSF and internal security duties
- While border protection has been the primary duty of BSF, it has also been deployed for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in troubled areas of the country like J&K, NE states and naxal-hit areas.
- These forces have also been utilised for tasks like conducting elections peacefully, VIP security, riot, and crowd control.
- BSF and disaster management
- BSF also plays an important role in disaster management. Some of the battalions of BSF trained in disaster management activities were part of the National Disaster Response force. For example, during the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, BSF was the first to reach out to help the distressed people.
- BSF and UN peacekeeping missions
- As a member of the UN, India regularly sends its troops to UN peacekeeping missions.
- Every year BSF personnel also participate in UN peacekeeping missions.