The Border Security Force (BSF) is the border police organisation of India. It is one of the seven Central Armed Police Forces of India, and was raised in the wake of the 1965 War on 1 December 1965, “for ensuring the security of the borders of India and for matters connected there with”. It is a Central Armed Police Force charged with guarding India’s land border during peacetime and preventing transnational crime at the same, it has various active roles during an outbreak of war. It is a Union Government Agency under the administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs. The BSF has its own cadre of officers but its head, designated as a Director-General (DG), since its raising has been an officer from the Indian Police Service. It is an Armed Force of the Union of India tasked with various assignments from time to time.
The BSF has grown exponentially from a few battalions in 1965, to 186 battalions with a sanctioned strength of 257,363 personnel including an expanding air wing, marine wing, an artillery regiment, and commando units. It currently stands as the world’s largest border guarding force. BSF has been termed as the First Line of Defence of Indian Territories.
From independence in 1947 to 1965, the protection of India’s international boundaries was the responsibility of local police belonging to each border state, with little inter-state coordination. BSF was created as a Central government-controlled security force to guard all of India’s borders, thus bringing greater cohesion in border security. BSF is charged with guarding India’s land border during peacetime and preventing transnational crime. It is a Union Government Agency under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs. It is one of many law enforcement agencies of India. It currently stands as the world’s largest border guarding force.
During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the border management system was in the hands of the individual state police forces, and these proved incapable of properly dealing with border threats. Following these episodes, the government created the Border Security Force as a unified central agency with the specific mandate of guarding India’s international boundaries. K F Rustamji, from the Indian Police Service, was the first Director General of BSF. Since it was a new force, the officers had to be deputed or inducted from outside to fill the various vacancies at various levels until the force’s own cadre gets matured enough. Keeping in mind the above, emergency commissioned officers and SS officers of the Indian Army were inducted in large numbers in the force along with IPS officers who were deputed to the force for high level appointments. Till 1965 India’s borders with Pakistan were manned by the State Armed Police Battalion. Pakistan attacked Sardar Post, Chhar Bet, and Beria Bet on 9 April 1965 in Kutch. This exposed the inadequacy of the State Armed Police to cope with armed aggression due to which the Government of India felt the need for a specialized centrally controlled Border Security Force, which would be armed and trained along the lines of the army, to man the International Border as well as the Line Of Control (Under Army Operations) with Pakistan. As a result of the recommendations of the Committee of Secretaries, the Border Security Force came into existence on 1 Dec 1965 with K F Rustamji as its first Director General.
The BSF’s capabilities were used in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 against Pakistani forces in areas where the Regular Forces were thinly spread; BSF troops took part in several operations including the famous Battle of Longewala. In fact, for BSF the war on eastern front had started well before the war actually broke out in Dec ’71. BSF had trained, supported and formed part of “Mukti Bahini” and had entered erstwhile East Pakistan before the actual hostilities broke out. BSF had played a very important role in Liberation of Bangladesh which Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Mujibur Rehman had also acknowledged.
The BSF, long considered a male bastion, has now deployed its first batch of women personnel at the border to carry out regular frisking of women as well as other duties. Presently woman troops are deployed at various borders. The BSF also has started induction of women at the officer level as well.