It’s 4 degree Celsius, but BSF constable Vijender donning a bulletproof jacket, which weighs around 16.5 kg, and holding a 4.5 kg gun cannot afford to drop guard even for a second. Vijender, who is posted at the zero line along the International Border at Samba in Jammu and Kashmir, has two troubles — ceasefire violations by Pakistan and possibility of floodlights going off anytime.
BSF officials said power cuts were frequent in the borders areas, which means floodlights and other search lights might go blank for a few seconds. There is a power backup, but that takes time to be activated.
One of the forward posts right along the zero line runs on generator throughout the day. “We are on constant vigil but if the power goes then we have to be doubly prepared. This because when the area plunges into darkness, there are chances of infiltration attempts. They are just waiting to cross,” said another BSF constable posted in Samba. The Indian Express visited one of the border outposts in Samba where BSF personnel said in this cold too, they were putting up in morchas, which only had tin roofs as cover. There is a morcha at every 50 metre along the 192-km long IB.
Officials said Pakistan has not installed floodlights along its border. “They have hardly put any floodlight or search light on their side. Erecting floodlights will defeat their purpose as there are continued attempts to infiltrate from their side,” said a BSF commander who did not wish to be identified. “For the past two days there is zero visibility at the border due to fog. We are not complaining… at least our condition is better than our colleagues posted in Kashmir valley. At times like this, the pressure is more to be on alert as Pakistan has initiated new round of firing,” said company commander Hari Lal.
District Collector Mubarak Singh said the BSF has power backup in the border areas. “Sometimes due to unforeseen situation the power supply can go off. But, the BSF has an alternate supply plan. Nobody can guarantee 24 hours continuous supply as sometimes situations occur, which are beyond control,” said Singh.
The border personnel also say there has been a marked difference in their response since the NDA government came to power. “Earlier if any of us was killed, we were asked to show restraint and not retaliate much. The man sitting on the border kept waiting for permission from seniors. Now, we don’t even think twice before pulling the trigger. We know Delhi is with us,” said the BSF commander. BSF DG D K Pathak too said the government is supporting the force like never before. “All the senior government including the National Security Advisor is in constant touch with us. The death of every border personnel is a personal loss.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines