In the wake of cross-border firings in Jammu and Kashmir, security forces have been put on high alert on India-Pakistan International Border (IB) in Bamial Sector in Punjab.
Nearly 750 m out of 24 km area in this sector across the Ravi is porous and highly prone to infiltration. River currents make it difficult for Indian security forces to fence this area.
Though personnel of the Border Security Forces keep a tight vigil over the porous stretch using floodlights at night, many a times Pakistani nationals sneak into the Indian territory through this sector.
In April 2010, at Ratrwan village in Narot Jaimal Singh block, two Pakistani terrorists had killed two Punjab police personnel before they were killed.
Though people living in this area are unaffected by the developments in J&K, sudden movement of security forces and beginning of search drive, especially in deras of Gujjar community, in this area has made them anxious.
Bamyal and Narot Jaimal Singh areas share borders with J&K's Kathua, which is also prone to cross-border infiltration. Police have set up both temporary and permanent bases, besides they patrol the area along with locals (to identify intruders), yet complete check on infiltration is not possible due to natural obstacles, say police, which is well known to even our neighbor.
"We are on high alert and keeping a tight vigil for 24 hours here, said Parabhjot Singh Virk, deputy superintendent of police (DSP), who holds the charge of these border villages. "Though BSF guards the front posts, our alert personnel, who provide second ring, keep an eye on movement of men and material from both Pakistan and J&K sides," said the DSP.
"We are working as an ally to the BSF. We meet on regular basis to share information and exchange ideas to check infiltration. In addition, timely information about a stranger provided by local residents help us the most. With their help we have arrested many intruders in the past," the DSP added.
When asked if people from J&K had migrated to this area after the firing incidents there, he said so far there was no migration.
BSF Assistant Commandant Balbir Singh, who leads BSF troops in the area, said his personnel were on high alert. "The area is peaceful and so far no attempt was made by Pakistanis to infiltrate through this border."
Speaking about restriction imposed on farmers of border fields, he said since the area had not seen any disturbance, the farmers' movement was not restricted and they were doing their job as per their routine.
Tirlok Singh, a local from Janial village near Bamyal, said earlier before the fencing, people used to cross the border and return back easily. "We have spent sleepless nights, as Pakistani used to steal our animals. Now after the fencing, our cattle are safe. If the small area that is left unfenced if sealed, it would solve the problem of infiltration," he said.
When asked about the cross-border firing in J&K, Tirlok Singh said he had not seen any firing so far, but they could not leave their fields and livestock.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rakesh Kaushal told Hindustan Times that his team was keeping tight vigil in the area and if needed, more forces would be employed.