Centre to revive 'Special Service Bureau'
The central government has decided to pursue revival of the Special Service Bureau (SSB) along its international borders. SSB's revival is in light of increasing Chinese activity especially around Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Reportedly, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has asked Joint Intelligence Committee, RN Ravi and Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, to start working on SSB's revival plan.
A Special Service Bureau (SSB) was constituted in 1963 after the 1962 Indo-China war. Large numbers of locals were recruited who served as eyes and ears of security forces; they were also trained in intelligence collection and weapons training for self-defence. SSB members also countered propaganda that the Chinese tried to spread among border population of Arunachal Pradesh, Bangladesh, Nepal and even Jammu.
In 2001, the SSB was renamed 'Sashastra Seema Bal' after it was given charge of the Nepal border. In 2004, it was given added responsibility of the Bhutan border. It's essentially a paramilitary force under the Ministry of Home affairs tasked with guarding India's international borders. It also provides internal security during state elections and is deployed for counter-insurgency or anti-Naxal operations if required.
China's new rail and road trade route with Nepal would link Guangdong, Tibet and Kathmandu and its plan to build a tunnel under Mount Everest has made India apprehensive. China interactions with Bangladesh and Myanmar are increasing too: Bangladesh is keen on increased FDI and Chinese support for developing infrastructure. Recently, during Chinese President Xi Jingping's visit, both countries signed 28 MoUs and deals.
Indian security establishment believes Chinese dominance could influence India's dynamics with its neighbouring countries. Pakistan's ISI is also reportedly trying to attempt to create disturbance through India's eastern borders.
SSB is expected to be an effective counter threat to protect borders against China's activities and Pakistan's ISI. Prior to its revival, SSB members are expected to undergo advanced and sophisticated training and deeper penetration tactics. However, it's believed that its revival could take a significant time since SSB lost touch with its previous assets after it was moulded into a paramilitary force.