As they thumped their feet into the ground for the final parade as trainees, they all knew that they are just a step away from their destination - of being the first women to be guarding India's international borders.
The Kharkan camp of the Border Security Force (BSF), 15 km from this Punjab town, saw history being made on Saturday as 178 women recruits were inducted into the BSF fold after their impressive passing out parade in Hoshiarpur.
With their 36-week month hard training behind them, the new BSF women recruits will now get specialised tips on advanced combat for two weeks before they take up their assignment along the 553-km-long fenced India-Pakistan border in Punjab.
The recruits will be the first women to be deployed along the international border. Their non-combat role will include security at the fenced border gates, frisking of women going across the fence and facilitating spectators at the retreat ceremony at the Attari-Wagah border near Amritsar.
Home Minister P Chidambaram specially flew in Hoshiarpur early Saturday morning to take the salute of the new recruits of the BSF.
"It is a great privilege to be here. There are many constables in the country but no one can take away from you the special pride as you are the first batch of women constables in the BSF. You all have an important role to play," Chidambaram told the women recruits.
While majority of the new women recruits are from Punjab, those passing out on Saturday included young women from West Bengal and Assam also. Most of the recruits are in the 18 to 22 age group.
Among the new recruits, 14 are post-graduates, 22 graduates and 128 studied up to Class 12. The recruits include 25 sportswomen and 11 National Cadet Corps (NCC) volunteers.
"The training in Hoshiarpur was a physical and mental test for all of us. Now we are ready to serve our country. The BSF has given us a chance to come out of our villages and do something," Rajwant Kaur, who comes from a village in Punjab's frontier district of Gurdaspur, told IANS.
BSF Director General ML Kumawat termed the passing out of the women recruits as a "historical day".
"It is a matter of pride that the BSF has thrown open its doors for women. It is a historical day for us," Kumawat said.
The BSF was last year sanctioned nearly 700 posts for recruiting women constables for guarding international borders. Nearly 8,500 applications were received for these posts.