I, TOO, AM ALERT
These are challenging times for our region. I come from Arnia, a medium-sized village in Jammu District. In the last one to two years, Pakistan has targeted our region by resorting to repeated terrorist strikes from across the international border and by frequent cross–border firing. These attacks directly impact our economic activity and security. It is all thanks to our ever–alert and well–trained security forces that the suffering he wants to inflict on us has been minimized and the infiltrating terrorists have met their just end, shot dead and not even acknowledged by their evil handlers.
Adversity is an excellent teacher, they say. I have seen this closeup and personal. In our village, we no longer panic when we hear the first shot from across the border. We take cover in areas we have now realized to be relatively safe and await being transported to the depth areas in Army trucks or buses arranged by the Civil Administration. Although our daily work routine is severely affected and children miss out on school for that duration, but the stay at the make-shift camp is made bearable and not too uncomfortable by the Army and Civil Administration who provide us with the basic necessities and keep our morale high by exhorting us to be patient. The sound of return fire by the BSF is reassuring. We have full faith that our BSF gives back to the Pakistanis more than they bargained for.
The Army, Police and BSF take great pains in explaining to us that our assistance is extremely vital in helping them to deal with infiltrating terrorists. It is so obvious that if all of us keep an alert lookout for strangers in our respective areas, we will be adding immensely to the security forces’ capability of surveillance. We must, therefore, try to know what to look for and also what to do where we notice something suspicious. These aspects must be shared with all villagers and town people.
We know that the terrorists come from Pakistan and cross the international border at night with the help of the Pakistan Army and Rangers, who assist them by providing covering fire as also by providing guidance about routes etc. The terrorists usually cross the border in civilian dress to pass off as civilians, if detected, while crossing. Once into India, they change into the camouflage pattern uniform used by our Army or BSF. They do this to avoid being recognized by us and pose as Security Forces personnel when they move inwards to their target areas. But if we are alert we will notice some tell-tale signs which should make us suspicious. For example, they are usually in a group of two to four terrorists. Army and BSF do not move around in such small groups. The terrorists carry heavy rucksacks or bags on their backs which contain ammunition, clothing items, and dry fruits and energy drinks for their sustenance. Our soldiers do not carry such big bags. The terrorists usually have a beard or are unshaven for a few days. This also is an indicator. In a large number of cases, they have been seen to wear sports type shoes which are very different from Army and BSF boots. They also do not have Army helmets or bullet-proof patkas which our soldiers wear. If we remain alert of these aspects, we can pick out suspicious persons and report them to the nearest Army, BSF or Police Post. This must be done at the earliest so that the terrorists are stopped and eliminated before reaching their intended destination and are able to do any damage. I also want to share with you that the terrorists try to use vehicles as early as possible because they are likely to be spotted if they walk over large distances. So, they ask for a lift in cars or hijack them. They also target motorcycles similarly. Our soldiers rarely ask for a lift. So, persons in camouflage pattern uniform with large bags and weapons asking for a lift or flagging down a vehicle should make us suspicious automatically.
If some such sighting arouses our suspicion, we must get away from these persons and contact the Army/BSF/Police by the fastest means available, be it on mobile or by informing the nearest check post. But in all this, we must not fall prey to rumour mongering. Mobile numbers are shared by the security forces, with village Sarpanches and many civilians. I think our security forces are doing an excellent job in very challenging circumstances. We, civilians, must all join hands to help them in whatever way we can. Information given by alert villagers and citizens have helped the Army and Police in all recent terrorist incidents. These examples that cut across religious lines, must inspire us, and we must contribute towards making our region more secure against Pakistan’s nefarious designs. Jai Hind !