Sunday, July 9, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Boat nakas on the Ravi
From Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

SHAHPUR (Indo-Pak Border), July 8 — Even as the central government has fenced the entire 533 km Punjab border yet the meandering Ravi which flows through Pakistan can be exploited by smugglers and anti-social elements.

In order to defeat the nefarious designs of the enemy, the Border Security Force (BSF) put up at least 100 boat nakas at various locations of the river in Amritsar and Gurdaspur border districts.

The river meanders into Pakistan and India at nine places before its final entry into the neighbouring country. The total nine points are highly vulnerable which could be exploited for infiltration and smuggling, especially after sunset. Fencing cannot be erected on the river bed and hence these points pose a great danger to the security and integrity of the country.

The BSF authorities said there were at least 1000 boats and an equal number of trained jawans in the “water wing”. They said the “water wing” swung into action whenever there was security danger on the river bed.

In Ajnala sector, as many as four boat nakas are held on the Ravi every night. The boats are loaded with weapons, and other equipment needed for patrolling. A hut is also made on the boat so that in case of rain and chilly winds the jawans can get some protection.

The Deputy-Inspector-General (BSF), Mr H.S. Gill, while talking to the Press said the “water wing” of the BSF had been doing an arduous but commendable job to safeguard the country from foreign onslaughts. He claimed that smuggling and chances of infiltration could be curbed due to the efforts of jawans who were on round the clock patrolling.

During the monsoon the Ravi changes its course, making boat patrolling a difficult task. The fast current of the river sometimes erodes the banks of the river. Sometime it washes away the border observation posts (BOPs). At the time of floods, the boat nakas cannot be put up. However, the boat patrolling continues.

During a visit to the Shahpur BOP, this correspondent saw the Ravi can wash away the post anytime when the water level rises. The BSF authorities said the flood water had caused colossal damage to the BOPs during 1995 and 1988 in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts.

The BSF also conducts dry operation after the end of the naka to ascertain whether any anti-social element made an attempt to cross the fencing. The BSF and Pakistani Rangers conduct joint patrolling.

Mr Gill said that due to intensive

patrolling the BSF defeated the nefarious designs of anti-social elements to dig a tunnel from the Pakistan side.

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