In an attempt to improve relations with the people living in the border areas, the Border Security Force has decided to adopt schools there, according to a senior official.

“ Every border outpost will adopt a school as a part of the Civic Action Programme of the BSF. We have 1,400 such outposts,” Ashok Kumar, Inspector-General (Administration) of the BSF, told The Hindu here on Thursday.

Mr. Kumar said the project would initially be launched in 100 outposts in the BSF’s eastern theatre of operations along the Bangladesh border. These schools would not only benefit from the funding that would be provided by the BSF, but would also become centres where the force could undertake welfare activities such as medical camps.

The BSF faces severe criticism from the media and civil society on their treatment of the people living in the border areas.

BSF Director-General Subhash Joshi was in the city to inaugurate Project Darpan — a joint initiative of the BSF and some organisations to provide free surgeries for the rectification of cleft lip and cleft palate to people living in the border areas.

At the event, Additional Director-General, BSF (East), B.D. Sharma, said the force had the mandate for welfare activities in the border areas, particularly as “sometimes it is the only government organisation that has a presence in these remote villages.”

Asked about the reservations expressed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on firings along the Bangladesh border, Mr. Joshi said: “Who am I to react to this?”

Refuting claims that the BSF was a “trigger-happy force,” he said: “We do our work in a professional manner and will continue to do so.”

Asked to comment on allegations that BSF jawans were involved in smuggling rackets, he said that if a specific case was brought to the notice of the BSF authorities, strict action would be taken.