What is ITBP?

indo-tibetan border police

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) is one of the five Central Armed Police Forces of India, established on 24 October 1962, under the CRPF Act, in the wake of the Sino-Indian War of 1962. The ITBP was intended for deployment with India’s border with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

In September 1996, the Parliament of country enacted the “Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force Act, 1992” to “provide for the constitution and regulation” of the ITBP “for ensuring the security of the borders of India and for matters connected therewith”. The first leader of the ITBP, designated Inspector General, was Balbir Singh, a police officer previously belonging to the Intelligence Bureau. The ITBP, which initiated with 4 battalions, has since restructuring in 1978 has undergone expansion to a force of 56 battalions as of 2017 with a sanctioned strength of 89,432.

ITBP, for the first two decades since its raising in 1962, till 1983, was headed by Inspector Generals of Police (IGs), all drawn from the IPS. In this period (1963–83), IGs had stable tenures, for instance, B Chatterjee, IG, was head of the force from 02-06-1964 to 31-08-1974, and R N Sheopory, as IG, was head from 03-09-1974 to 22-12-1980. In 1983, the Indira Gandhi led Congress Government, enhanced ITBP head to Director General (DG). Since then, there has exponentially increment of higher ranks, accompanied by volatility in the tenures of the head of ITBP. Instead of one IG as in 1983, ITBP now has 16 DG/IGs and over 40 DIGs. The average duration of DGs is about a year plus, and in some cases barely a few weeks, for instance, B.B. Nandy, IPS, was DG (10-01-1997 to 03-04-1997), for just 28 weeks. Going by the trend of the short duration of DGs, it would appear that the Government is not overly concerned about command control, or in maintaining command continuity in the ITBP. The post of DG was again enhanced by the Manmohan Singh led UPA Government in 2008.

ITBP is a multi-dimensional force which primarily has 5 functions:

  • Vigil on the northern borders, detection, and avoiding of border violations, and promotion of the sense of security among the local populace.
  • Check illegal immigration and trans-border smuggling
  • Give security to sensitive installations and threatened VIPs
  • Restore and preserve order in any area in the event of a disturbance
  • to maintain the peace
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