Saluting the Real Heroes

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.

It's about time we stop using the pronoun 'he' for soldiers.
It’s about time we stop using the pronoun ‘he’ for soldiers.

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.

A soldier standing guard at the India-Bangladesh border with no proper shelter.
A soldier standing guard at the India-Bangladesh border with no proper shelter.

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.)

Our future soldiers.
Our future soldiers.

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.

“Doctor.”

“A teacher like you, Ma’am.”

“Lawyer.”

“Pilot.”

“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.

Outside the basecamp of the BSF's 144 Battalion, Bop-Ghojadanga
Outside the basecamp of the BSF’s 144 Battalion, Bop-Ghojadanga
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12 thoughts on “Saluting the Real Heroes

  1. Let me first correct kabir that Indo-Pak and Indo-Bangla border are purely guarded by BSF not by Indian army. BSF is an independent organization working under MHA. This is common myth among Indians that Indian army is guarding the border thereby de-recognize the hardship of a border man which is aptly brought out by the writer. I must congratulate rucheka for bringing out the correct picture of border man performing their duty with inherent hardship. I hope the government and the nation must reimburse these soldiers by recognize their services to the nation.

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  2. First of all I would like to congratulate Rucheka for bringing out facts about BSF. BSF and ITBP are not only guarding international borders of the country but also guarding important patches of LC/LoC/LAC but credit of their work is snatched by army and it is really unfortunate that our countrymen still think that army is guarding borders.

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  3. salute to gutsy writer for highlighting bsf and its workings.trully brought all possible ground realities. salute u dear for writing..

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  4. Bravo rucheka for such a detailed discription of border men, may more n more people come to know about the real heros who stand at the borders for others good night sleep

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