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Posted at: Jul 8, 2018, 12:40 AM; last updated: Jul 8, 2018, 1:44 AM (IST)

Her line of control

Jasmine Singh
Patrolling, gate management, frisking, guarding the ambush posts, women personnel in the BSF are an integral part of the force

Jasmine Singh in Amritsar

Sunita Choudhary from Rajasthan and Dhanashri from Maharashtra are back after their long patrolling duty along the border in Roranwala village, Amritsar. Thereafter, the two slip into their parade uniforms and black boots. Sunita and Dhanashri, BSF constables posted at Kahangarh border outpost (BOP), are leading the Flag Down march at the Attari border today.

During the parade, the crowds break into cheers when they see these young constables marching. After the parade, the two go back to their frisking duty at the Kisan guard gate. “The schedule is gruelling, but our duty gives us a sense of pride. And where pride is involved, nothing else matters,” echo the two constables.

Women in the BSF came in as a pilot project in 2008. It was mainly a functional requirement. While the BSF male staff posted at the Kisan guard gate would frisk men, who had land on other side of the fence, a need was felt to have female staff to frisk the women. Women from the village were requested to volunteer till the BSF recruited their own female staff.

Since 2008, the number of women in the BSF, along the Punjab border, has gone up to nearly 800. Women BSF personnel are not only manning the border but also in charge of the gate management. “BSF women personnel come from all parts of the country. There is no separate battalion for them. A woman constable perform the same set of duties as a male constable,” says JS Oberoi, VSM, DIG, BSF, Amritsar.

From border guarding duties at the observation and ambush post to patrolling, gate management, frisking, these staff members perform the same duties as their male counterparts. 

“Capable of taking on the enemy, she is an authorised strength and an integral part of the platoon,” Oberoi adds. 

And it is with this sense of pride that Nitika Malik Sub-Inspector GD (General Duty) from Sonepat, posted at Kahangarh border out post, wakes up every morning. A 2016 batch girl, this is Nitika’s first posting. As a youngster, she admired women in uniform and yearned to be one of them.

“Today, I am,” says this courageous BSF personnel, who likes to watch films and news in her free time.

Patrolling at the vulnerable zero line, Nitika has to keep her eyes and ears open. She has orders to retaliate if she finds any suspicious movement. 

“The enemy doesn’t see gender. A target is a target for them,” says Nitika confidently. The sub-inspector shows no signs of fatigue, even after a long day. “I knew what I was getting into. After all, with uniform comes the responsibility,” she adds.

The sentiment is shared by women constables Dilraj Kaur from Fazilka and Gurmeet Kaur from Ferozepur, who are buddy partners in patrolling. Holding sophisticated guns in their hands and equipped with night-vision cameras, the two patrol the border in the morning and at night. Their life revolves around patrolling and frisking. Whenever there is a dull moment, the two remind themselves of how much they wanted to be a part of the forces. The buddy partners do not interact much while patrolling but off duty the two like to check out the latest in movies, fashion, music and enjoy taking selfies.

“We are always in uniform — the only time we get to wear normal clothes is when we go home. That’s good enough for us,” they say. The women say they do not want to be treated any different from the men but a smile lights up their face when they say, “Our request for leave, however, is treated on a priority basis.”

The presence of women constables has already made a difference, says Additional DG, Western Command, Kamal Nayan Choubey. He adds, “The recruitment of women in combat roles is not only a symbol of women empowerment but also an emphatic statement of breaking the glass ceiling. Women are as effective in border guarding and border domination as their male counterparts. So, there is no  gender differentiation when classifying responsibilities in the BSF.

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