Women will man India-Pakistan border, come Friday
Indian women troopers are just a few hours away from creating history at the India-Pakistan border. Newly inducted into the Border Security Force (BSF), they will be the first lot of women to guard the international border in Punjab from Friday.
“All the 178 girls will be posted at the international border,” BSF Punjab frontier deputy inspector general (DIG) Jagir Singh told IANS here Thursday.
“While the majority will take up their assignment along the 553-km-long fenced India-Pakistan border in Punjab, 60 of the girls will be later posted on the India-Bangladesh border.”
The women troopers will be assigned non-combat duties along the fenced border even though BSF officials say they are fully trained in the use of weapons, patrolling and other combat tasks.
The majority of the girls are aged between 19 and 25 years.
“At this point of time, their primary duty will be limited to guarding the border gates and frisking of women going across the fence for farming. But they will cover all the BOPs (border outposts),” DIG Singh said in this Sikh holy town, 217 km from state capital Chandigarh.
“Besides, they will also facilitate spectators for the Retreat ceremony at the Attari-Wagah border near Amritsar.”
The passing out parade of these newly inducted troopers was held July 25 this year at the Kharkan training camp of the BSF near Hoshiarpur town in Punjab. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and BSF Director General M.L. Kumawat came for the first induction of women troopers in the BSF.
“They will not be stationed on combat duty and will not carry weapons with them. Though they are well trained in using all the sophisticated weapons and depending on the circumstances, BSF can use their services,” Singh added.
Talking about the safety concerns of women officials during their posting in remote border areas, Singh said: “Right now, there are no woman officers but we have kept every concern of the girls’ security and well-being in mind.”
Separate quarters have been built to provide them good accommodation. Most of these quarters were already complete and BSF has made alternate arrangements at places where construction is not yet complete, pointed out Singh.
The majority of the new women troopers are from Punjab and some from West Bengal and Assam.
They completed 38 weeks of hard training before taking up their assignment on the international border.
Among the new recruits, 14 are postgraduates, 22 graduates and 128 studied up to Class 12. The recruits include 25 sportswomen and 11 National Cadet Corps (NCC) volunteers.
While the women troopers will guard BOPs by turns, they will be assigned internal security and counter insurgency duties also, the DIG said.
The BSF was last year sanctioned nearly 700 posts for recruiting women constables for guarding international borders. Nearly 8,500 applications were received for these posts.