Para Military

Sentinels of Thar - BSF


From Deccan Herald, 23 April 1999

A BSF Jawan keeps the vigil by day and by night

After Independence, in keeping with its high traditions, the PBG rendered yeoman service in 1947 and around the capital in the upheaval during the aftermath of partition. The Regiment saw action in 1965, when it participated in 'Operation Ablaze' in the Western theatre. In 1988 and 1989, detachments of the PBG has served on the world's highest battlefield in Siachen as well as with the Indian contingent forming part of the United Nations force in Somalia and Angola. The PBG today is a small body of men comprising of four officers,14 JCOs and 161 Bodyguards backed up by administrative support personnel, an establishment which has not changed much in the last century. Equipped with armoured cars, its men are also trained for operational duties, both as tank men and airborne troops in addition to their ceremonial role.

A BSF Jawan keeps the vigil by day and by night

The number of militant camps is also said to have gone down as compared to 1989-90, but the present concern for the force is the smuggling of RDX from across the border. AK-47/56 rifles no longer top the list of smuggled arms nowadays. The increased inflow of highly explosive RDX has become a cause of concern to the BSF. The smuggling of narcotics drugs and weapons are considerably under control by the strict vigilance and fencing on the border, but the growing penchant for RDX has raised an alarm. Despite a strict vigil and the risk involved in carrying the cyclotrimethylene trinitroamine, the smuggling continues unabated. The BSF recovered 10 kg of RDX in 1995, followed by 20 kg in 1997 and 30 kg in 1998. The biggest ever recovery was made in 1996 in Barmer when 63 kg of RDX was recovered. The accessories required for explosion like time-devices or time-pencils are also being smuggled. The BSF intercepted the advances of hundred of suspects last year including 13 Pakistani, 29 Indian, and other nationals. The Jawans also seized a number of arms and ammunitions including AK-47/56 rifles and other weapons. Over the years the BSF Jawans have rendered a commendable job on the anti-smuggling front, seizing precious items & narcotics including gold, silver, cocaine, heroin, and charas.

The BSF's Camel Corps posted in the Thar Desert

After the nuclear blast at Pokharan, the BSF is more cautious and vigilant on guarding the Indo-Pak border. The dedicated BSF Jawans perform their duties in most adverse circumstances. Even in the sweltering heat when mercury touches a record high, the BSF men guard the far-flung desolate border outposts. To them civic amenities are a distant dream and they can't even think of having a glass of cold water. Since the Thar desert is so vast and the journey so arduous, at times when taken ill, many Jawans succumb to the extreme weather conditions because it gets too late by the time medical aid reaches them. The comfort oriented youths could probably never think of leading such a tough life, but the BSF Jawans have learnt to live with the hostilities of nature. They have developed a strong will to bear the blazing sun of the desert, the blinding simmer of the Rann of Kutch, and the freezing cold in the green belt alike.

A BSF Jawan is all smiles for the camera

In this arduous lifestyle, the camel - the ship of the desert - is a perfect companion for the BSF men. The camels provide vital mobility to BSF troops while patrolling the border areas. It also helps in carrying drinking water, ration and other essentials in the desert. But camel handling is an art and needs considerable experience and training. The new Jawans posted on the Rajasthan Gujarat border are given special training in camel riding so as to avoid cases of camel bites and injuries due to fall from camel backs. BSF Jawans - Sentinels of the Border - thus perform their duty to the motherland with a rare devotion. For them it's a "DUTY UNTO DEATH!"