As jawans of the Border Security Force (BSF) thrust their chests out and straighten their right legs heavenwards, in a seemingly superhuman act, and then bring their feet down aggressively, unfailingly in sync, the thud echoes in the patriot's heart much after the evening's retreat ceremony at the Indo-Pak border at Attari gets over. For the jawans, though, the thud also means aching feet, rickety joints and a bad back.
The BSF has now found a solution -- wooden planks, which would replace the unforgiving concrete floor and reduce the reactionary jolt. If all goes as per the Rs 4-lakh plan, 'stomping-heavy' areas will get wooden slabs within the next four months. "The slabs will be covered with black rubber paint so that they look no different from the concrete road," said BSF inspector general (IG) Aditya Mishra.
Asked why a similar proposal to lay rubber panels on the stomping areas had been dumped, Mishra said that would have eliminated the sound. The sound is a measure of pride, as are the aggressive face expressions and bodily gestures, when Indian and Pakistani personnel perform the rehearsed routine to mark lowering of the flags at dusk.
"It's not that the jawans complain regularly. But we feel for them, as their feet obviously get hurt on concrete," said Mishra, adding that similar slabs would later be used at the Hussainiwala border in Ferozepur that also sees a retreat ceremony.
"We have also decided that jawans on parade duty will be rotated frequently to give them relief," said the IG.