It is not too much to suppose that many elderly citizens from Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh harbour a dream of visiting mainland India but are unable to do so due to a lack of resources.
Now they can do it for free, as the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) will sponsor a few all-India tours!
The rationale behind this first-of-its-kind move is to not only strengthen ties with citizens in border areas but also fortify India’s security.
The ITBP with a task force of over 90,000 personnel guards the 3,488-km-long Sino-India border stretching from Jammu and Kashmir to Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
These tours have happened before, but only for children, to educate them about mainland India.
The ITBP will designate funds from its Civic Action Programme (CAP) budget, given by the Home Ministry to cover flight costs for its guests. This will help cut down travel time as most of these border villages are located in far-flung areas.
“The MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) recently allowed the new proposal for the ITBP to take senior citizens for such tours where travel, boarding and all logistics are taken care by the force,” a senior home ministry official told the Hindustan Times.
The push for this seems to have come from Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who addressed the ITBP troops at their Joshimath camp in Uttarakhand in September directing the force to give special attention to the wellbeing of the border population as their migration would put India’s security at risk.
“People living along the India-China border should not be made to migrate at any cost. They are our strategic assets. They should be given more importance. The day they will migrate…that will not be good for our border security…. I will request ITBP (personnel) to make friends with the local population in the area of their border deployment,” the Home Minister said.
The first tour is expected to set off from the borders of Arunachal Pradesh. The group will be taken to religious and iconic places of the country before reaching their final destination – Delhi, to wrap up the tour.
“With such initiatives, the force has been eyeing to organise more programmes to win hearts and minds of the remote population and to provide them an opportunity to experience the rich social, cultural and historical heritage of the nation,” a blueprint accessed by PTI said.