Distances no longer seem so large, as thanks to technology, Border Secturity Force jawans posted in the Attari sector of the India-Pakstan border can see and talk to their family live at the click of a button.
'Apna Ghar Sarhad Par', the 'first-of-its-kind' pilot project launched by the BSF on August 15 to tackle loneliness among the jawans posted on the border has garnered appreciation from the soldiers, who queue up every day to utilise the video conferencing facility.
On Thursday, an HT team got to see the facility in action, with constable Harjinder Kaur Rattu video chatting with one of her family members. During the conversation, which lasted for about two minutes, excitement was visible on Rattu's face as she asked about her near and dear ones.
BSF officials claim that soldiers worried about their family feel relieved when they see them on the computer screen.
"Some leave the room in an emotional state, while some are extremely happy after talking to their family," they say.
Terming it one of the most beneficial ways of communication, constable Rattu, who hails from a small village near Hoshiarpur and had joined the BSF a few years ago, said, "This is more exciting than making a phone call. It is very easy to operate, and we can talk and see our family members."
"Whenever there is a get together or small function at home which we cannot attend, we still feel like we are there as a video chat gives us all the updates," she said, adding that a lot of her colleagues used the facility and felt "very connected" with their loved ones.
Constable BR Nanji Gowda from Karnataka, claimed that the video conferencing facility had been great help to the force.
"Though we do our duty with a lot of passion, we also miss our families. This initiative has ensured that our homes are just a click away. Whenever we want to talk to our families, we have to spare just five to 10 minutes, and can then connect with them," he added.
Many soldiers chat with their family at least once a week.
How they do it
The facility has been started at the Integrated Check Post (ICP), BSF Headquarters at Khasa, and the Joint Check Post.
At the ICP, a computer has been installed in a special room, and video conferencing is done through Skype software. Before approaching the room, the jawan informs his family so they can keep their system ready. A person deputed to help the jawans connect to their family ensures that all goes well on the technical front.
The facility is free, and with Diwali drawing closer, many jawans are looking forward to chat with their families as they would not be able to go home.
The idea was to make the jawans feel at home, as we felt that such minor experiments can give them a lot of relief, as they work hard. After the launch, we first taught them to use the facility
MF Farooqui, BSF deputy inspector general
A large number of people have used the facility since its launch on August 15. Every day, eight to 10 jawans use it to talk to their families. Those who don't have computers at home have asked their families to get one
Ranbir Dogra, officiating commandant, ICP