Inside story of flag meetings in the theatre of the absurd | india | Hindustan Times
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Inside story of flag meetings in the theatre of the absurd

Less than a month ago, BSF jawans could not fathom why they were greeted by a burst of fire from Pakistan at the International Border (IB) when all they were doing was planting a mango sampling well within Indian territory.

india Updated: Oct 12, 2014 00:06 IST
Harinder Baweja
Pakistan

Less than a month ago, BSF jawans could not fathom why they were greeted by a burst of fire from Pakistan at the International Border (IB) when all they were doing was planting a mango sampling well within Indian territory. The post commander sought a flag meeting.

At the meeting, the Pakistani Rangers objected to the tree planting. The BSF company commander relayed the objection to his boss and the message went all the way up to inspector general Rakesh Sharma, who ordered the Indian forces to stop the planting exercise.

A few days later, Indian jawans responded with a burst of fire and this time the Rangers wanted to know why.

“We asked them, have you eaten roti today? Have you done your ablutions?” says Sharma. “The message went home. We told them whether you piss or not is your problem, because you are doing that in your own territory.”

Flag meeting records perused by Hindustan Times are comical and border on the nonsensical.

They would make for a perfect cartoon strip if they weren’t also tragic, because tension on the international border often results in casualties on both sides.

At one such flag meeting last year — after a BSF jawan fell from an observation post after being hit by a bullet — Pakistani Rangers told their Indian counterparts that he had perhaps committed suicide.

Aghast, the BSF commander said, “We have the bullet. India doesn’t use this ammunition.’’

The reply from the Rangers was, “You have terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir. We have no terrorists in Pakistan. May be he was targeted by a terrorist.’’

The BSF commander retreated and pondered over the futility of flag meetings.

“It really hurt when they said they have no terrorists when they are the ones training them and sending them to India,” a BSF officer said.

The BSF had a lot to cheer about in the current flare-up at the IB, when they got instructions from the Narendra Modi government not to seek a flag meeting.

The stand-off has instead been marked by a response that has left the Pakistani Rangers wondering.

“They probably thought we would seek a truce again, but the orders were clear and we hit them hard. I hope they have understood that if they mind their business, we will mind ours,’’ said Sharma.

The no-flag-meeting directive came after a quick data analysis.

The current flare-up, in which the entire 192 km stretch of the IB was affected, came soon after India had sought 18 flag meetings during the ceasefire violation in July and August that lasted 42 days.

Indian jawans kept standing at the border holding flags but got no response from Pakistan.

“We hope the no-flag-meeting policy stays,” a BSF official said.