The Line of control (LOC), as we all know, separates India from Pakistan. I recently had the privilege of visiting the LOC at one of Indian Army’s forward posts in Jammu and Kashmir. LOC, by many, is perceived as a tall barbed wire fence with India and Pakistan on either side. This, however, is a gross misconception! The LOC, in some areas, is in fact, an imaginary line. The barbed wires are planted at around 50-100 metres into each country’s territory, as a primary tier of defence from infiltration.
My journey to the LOC began with a 0500 hrs departure from main Uri town towards a post somewhere along the LOC. Adrenaline levels were soaring as I knew this was a once in a lifetime experience for me! We embarked on a bumpy ride (on an almost non-existent road) which culminated at a post around 200m short of the LOC.
The first thing I learnt upon reaching my destination was that the LOC in J&K isn’t how it is portrayed in the movies like “Border” (which happens to be one of my favourite movies). A vast expanse of mountains and trees across a nullah (drain) was all Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). Tiny bunkers and posts tucked between trees could be seen flying the Pakistani flag. Binoculars and other high-tech equipment could be used to see the movement of persons at those posts. The equipment and weapons our men use against the enemy is quite contemporary though the life they live is extremely tough.
We, living in the comforts of our homes cannot visualize the conditions our men at the LOC live in. The terrain that they operate in, the routine they follow and the temporary structures/bunkers they live in is tough by any standards. The altitude is difficult, posts are high, mountains are treacherous and winds are strong. Mobile reception, television and such other amenities are non-existent in such areas. Most troops catch a nap during the day to make sure they are on their toes at night, that’s when they ‘operate’. Infiltration by terrorists is a constant worry for the Army. Ambush parties spend the night in some part of the vast jungle waiting for the enemy to make the smallest mistake so that they can take them down. A host of different techniques are used to try to stop the enemy from moving into our territory. Some posts, which are at greater heights and fairly close to the LOC, get completely cut off during winter months owing to heavy snowfall. Men are stuck with limited rations and no replenishment for months together. Medical help if needed is provided online, over high-tech communication equipment, by a doctor sitting far away from them. In case of an emergency they dig through the snow and reach the post to carry out what is called a “casevac” in army parlance or casualty evacuation for an average person. Despite a ceasefire agreement between the two countries for the past 10 years, recent violations have led to tensions at the LOC.
Even in toughest of conditions the josh and morale of our troops is exemplary. They are extremely determined to serve the nation and take on the enemy putting at stake their life if required. The only thing on their minds is to make sure the security of our borders at any cost. This requires immense courage and dedication. Having had the opportunity to see how they operate at the LOC, I can understand what they have to go through. Sitting several thousand kilometres away in the comfortable confines of our homes, we can, at the very least, appreciate the dedication and hard work being put in and courage being shown by them so that they do not deter from doing the job to the best of their ability.
My visit to the LOC is not something everyone is able to experience in life. I consider myself extremely lucky to have this opportunity to be there and see what the Indian Army does to protect us. It troubles me to watch several ‘experts’ in heated discussions on television deriding the Army without having visited the LOC. The “defence enthusiast” in me was more than happy to have experienced this and am obliged to share the same with you all. There are many more experiences and details that I would love to share, however, keeping national security in mind it would be best to not mention them here.
Disturbed by the recent media hype, an Indian Army officer is known to have said “If you question my commitment, please be ready to wear the uniform and man the LOC in my place.” It is very easy for those sitting in TV newsrooms and drawing rooms to criticize the Army for its shortcomings but only those who have seen the kind of dedication our men and women in uniform put in, will realize that the task at hand isn’t as easy as TV debates make it out to be. Our soldiers stand still, often eyeball to eyeball with the enemy, ready to sacrifice their life for us and I salute them for that.
About the Author: Archit Gupta is a 5th semester Electronics & Communication engineering student at Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal. He is a cricket aficionado, defence enthusiast with a keen interest in diplomacy and foreign relations. You can reach him at his twitter handle : @archit2811 , blog: www.archit2811.blogspot.in or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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