The Border Security Force has started an "Ops Alert'' exercise to enhance security along the India-Pakistan border in Kutch district of Gujarat and Barmer in Rajasthan in view of the upcoming Republic Day celebrations, the BSF said on Sunday. The exercise, which began from Saturday, was being carried out to "thwart any ill designs of anti-national elements" during the Republic Day celebrations, the BSF Gujarat Frontier said in a release.

The 'Ops Alert' exercise commenced on January 21 and will continue till January 28 "all along the Indo-Pak international border from Sir Creek (marshy area) to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat and Barmer district of Rajasthan," it said.

The BSF will carry out special operations in forward and depth areas as well as creeks and 'Harami Nalla' as part of the exercise. It has also planned public outreach programs as part of the exercise, the release said.

The Indo-Pak border along Kutch in Gujarat is sensitive in view of a number of Pakistani nationals having been apprehended in the past after entering the Indian waters while moving on boats to catch fish.

According to official data, the BSF apprehended 22 Pakistani fishermen, seized 79 fishing boats and heroin worth Rs 250 crore and Charas worth Rs 2.49 crore from this region of Gujarat in 2022.

To enhance its security, "permanent vertical bunkers" of concrete are being constructed for the first time to station BSF troops right at the strategically significant Sir Creek and Harami Nalla marshy area, sources earlier said.

The Union Home Ministry has sanctioned a Rs 50-crore fund for the construction of eight multi-storey bunkers cum observation posts in this area along the Bhuj sector in view of the "constant infiltration of Pakistani fishermen and fishing boats in the area," they said.