M A I N   N E W S

Here film songs, swaying grass may mean life or death
Jupinderjit Singh at Chicken Neck Point

The tall elephant grass serves as a natural fencing on the Indo-Pakistan border at the famed Chicken Neck point in Jammu region. The average distance between Indian border outposts on either side of Pakistan ranges between 2 km and 15 km. The Chenab, which flows along the north-west side of the man-made fence that abuts the tall grass, makes the land fertile on both sides of the border.

For the gun-totting uniformed men of the Border Security Force (BSF), who maintain a 24/7 vigil on the border in perhaps the harshest working conditions, ‘sarkanda’, as the elephant grass is known in local parlance, and songs, mainly of Hindi movies, may mean life or death at times.

It means life as the dried up ‘sarkanda‘ sticks held together by ropes make up for walls and roofs of the border outposts, which unlike the concrete blocks of Pakistan, are covered with tin sheets only. The grass keeps them warm as the bone-chilling winter sets in. The grass on the opposite side of the fence can have death lurking around. This grass hides the movement of the Pakistani troops and helps terrorists hide for infiltration bids.

There is not much to cheer about at the border where life is always on the edge. Poor mobile connectivity, wild boars, reptiles, snakes, and above all hostility across the fence make survival the top priority. Yet, the place is abuzz with Hindi movie songs played on radio stations. The BSF’s counterpart - the Pakistan Rangers- appear to enjoy listening to Indian songs too which they play on their loudspeakers. Music clearly knows no barrier.

But death lurks around here also. “We have noticed that there is always some movement, some conspiracy when songs are played on high volume. There is always an attempt to smuggle stuff or to push terrorists in our territory,” revealed a BSF source. “So, while we enjoy songs, we remain alert,” he stressed. The “Pardesi, Pardesi” song of Raja Hindustani is the Pakistan forces’ favourite. The Pakistan farmers on the tractors, however, have a special liking for songs from the film ‘Border’. BSF sources revealed, “We are rather surprised as the movie shows Pakistan forces being humbled yet they play it a lot.”





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