Friday, September 11, 2009

Sept. 10: At the crack of dawn on Friday, Border Security Force buglers at the Attari-Wagah India-Pakistan border will welcome India’s first women troopers, who will simultaneously take up position at observation posts along both the Punjab and West Bengal frontiers.

The first batch of 178 BSF women, all aged between 18 and 25, who were inducted after a grand passing-out parade at Kharkan camp near Hoshiarpur, have already reached their designated positions and will begin duty in the morning.

"Of the first batch, 60 girls have been posted to West Bengal and the rest (118 troopers) to Punjab," BSF DIG (G Branch) Jagir Singh said.

The women troopers’ arrival comes as major relief for women belonging to farming families in Punjab’s border villages who can now join the men in working on farms across the electrified security fence. These women had not been able to cross this fence since it was constructed in the early 1990s since the BSF had no arrangements to be able to frisk and search females.

This will mean substantial savings for many small farmers who were forced to hire labour to till their farms on the Pakistan side.

Mr Jagir Singh said the new recruits will also handle normal travellers and be on duty during the daily retreat ceremony, attended by nearly 20,000 spectators every evening. "Though all trained in weaponry, the girls for the moment will not be deployed in combat roles and will not be required to carry arms," he added. The officer expla-ined that of the 700 women recruited into the BSF, two batches had completed their training. The remaining batches will be inducted in the coming months after completing their compress-ed 38-week training course at the Kharkan camp.

BSF units in Punjab have constructed special facilities, including private living quarters, independent recreational areas and even was-hrooms reserved for the "la-dies" in every office block.

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