Away from home, soldiers on LoC battle rogue enemy, bitter cold
The life of a soldier on duty along the 744-km-long Line of Control (LoC) is not an easy one and it only gets tougher during the winters when the mercury plummets to sub-zero level.
“South of Pir Panjal range, where the mercury drops to sub-zero level and a deceitful enemy is few hundred metres away, the border guarding duties become even more challenging,” said a senior Army officer.
“The LoC gets covered under snow. There is a dense fog, icy winds and poor visibility. Right from Poonch, towards Valley, everything is snow bound and the Krishna Ghati (KG) sector towards Rajouri is in the grip of intense cold. Therefore, guarding the border becomes a daunting task,” he said.
The officer said that during winters, ambushes also can’t be ruled out because Pakistan has been waging a proxy war against India. So in this season, soldiers fight two adversaries—Pakistan and an inclement weather, he said.
To keep the cold at bay, the Army has provided warm clothes, gloves, monkey caps, snow shoes, bukharis, DG sets, first aid kits, and has deployed battle field nursing assistants to attend to health-related issues of the soldiers along the LoC.
“The drill of washing their feet with warm water to escape frostbite is there. Seeing the weather condition, it can be done twice in a day,” he said.
“The LoC fence is lighted up in the night so soldiers don’t feel the monotony of their job. Then, we also change duties frequently which is always performed in pairs. There is the concept of buddy pair,” said the officer.
A junior commissioned officer and 10 other soldiers patrol the LoC and the critical stretches are led by an officer.
To keep the troops motivated, they are given leaves to ensure they get to spend quality time with their families, said the officer.
Satbir Singh, a solider who served in Poonch sector, said, “We are given everything we require…from kerosene oil to hot food and warm clothing. Health checkups are an indispensable part. Serving the motherland at the LoC gives us a sense of pride”.
“My colleagues in Kashmir and Siachen face more inclement weather than us,” he said.
The LoC in Jammu and Kashmir has mostly remained active even in winters. This correspondent, who toured it in October 2016, still remembers an officer telling scribes to move inside trenches as Pakistan army had hoisted red flags on their posts to indicate hostility and as a sort of warning that they can open fire on any unusual movement.
That year, India had carried out surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) on the intervening night of September 27 and 28 from Nowshera and Bhimber Gali sectors.