Recently, our Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi went to Bangladesh and the media covered the visit explicitly. When we heard and read about it, we thought about our Prime Minister and Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. We also thought about the civilians living in those islands. But did we pause and think about the soldiers who stood guarding the borders of these two countries? Most of us didn’t.
Whenever we hear about two countries collaborating or fighting for that matter, we immediately think about the President or the Prime Minister of the respective countries (as the case may be). We think about the politicians and we think about the civilians of the country. But the people we so nonchalantly tend to forget are our soldiers. We repeatedly fail to acknowledge them and their services.
I have been going to the borders of Bangladesh-India for the last one year to teach the underprivileged children there. As a result, I had the opportunity of working with our Border Security Force very closely. Working with the BSF made me realize that the life of these valiant men and women is one full of struggles and difficulties. What particularly moved me were the conditions under which the soldiers had to work day and night. Soldiers guarding our borders work under the most pitiful conditions. They put their lives in danger for us and stay away from their families for months. They have to stand and guard the borders no matter what the weather conditions are. I have seen pictures of our soldiers manning the borders in regions of Kashmir in the north in the midst of snow fields and rocky terrain with very little oxygen in the air.
Closer home, there may not be snow and mountains but the porous borders make things no less difficult for them. They need to be vigilant, completely ignoring the sweltering heat or blinding rain in their full uniform, leather boots and heavy gun on their shoulders – both men and women alike.
In the picture below, you can see that all that this gallant soldier has, is a temporary shelter with holes in several places, made completely out of bamboo poles to protect himself from the weather conditions.
Things get particularly harsh during the summers. Their duty is 12 hours long and while they stand guarding the border, they do not have easy access to clean drinking water either.
The soldiers stationed at the Indo-Bangladesh border not only guard and protect our borders but also try and prevent trans-border crimes (like currency crimes), unauthorized entry and exit and the smuggling of something as valuable as gold and cattle to something as invaluable as garlic and onions.
The BSF also plays an important role during times of War and foreign attacks. Besides this, the BSF also contributes every year, a number of soldiers for different missions of The United Nations.
When I’d teach the little children in the Indo-Bangladesh border, I’d often ask them what they’d like to do once they were older and you’d be surprised to hear the unanimous answer that I used to get.
“Police e chaakri korbo.” (We will work in the police force.)
Those little boys and girls looked up to our Border Security Force the way a priest looks up at the portrait of Christ.
But back in the schools in the urban areas, when the teacher asks the children what they want to become when they grow up, we hear all sorts of answers.
“A teacher like you, Ma’am.”
“I’ll be a businessman.”
But not one child raises his/her hand to say that when he grows up, he’d like to become a soldier.
I think the prime reason behind this difference in that unlike the children living in the borders, children living in the urban areas don’t know just how noteworthy the services of our soldiers are.
I understand that not all of us have the opportunity to visit the country’s borders and see these soldiers in action. I hope that through this blog post I have made you understand the value of their services.
There is no way to put into words the gratitude we should feel for our soldiers but we should still try to do the best we can to express it to these valiant people. How difficult is it to say two little words? I’d say not difficult at all. So, the next time you see a soldier, veteran or novice, please do walk up to him or her and say “thank you”.
Let them know that their services are appreciated.