Second week of January. There was some new kind of hubbub in one of the most respected families of the Kekuri village in Dhakuakhana in Lakhimpur district of Assam. The members of the family were very happy and the happiness was reflecting on their faces. Pabitra Kumar Pegu, the head of the family was beaming with satisfaction and pride. What special had happened on that day in the Pegu family?
‘Poppy’ called from Panchkula. She informed her father that her year-long training had come to an end finally and she would be coming home. Pegu’s daughter Poppy has finally joined in the first ever all women battalion of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) as Constable GD. Pegu, who taught in a government school situated at a distance from his village would not believe that number two in his four daughters ‘Poppy’ would henceforth be part of the team manning the Indo-China border!
Poppy is that woman commando who completed the 44-week training along with 500 others at the basic training centre at Panchkula in Haryana as first women commando unit of ITBP. They were full of enthusiasm and pride and preparedness to do something for the country, to perform their commitment to the motherland. 300 out of them will be deployed to various units along the 3488 km Indo-China border to keep vigilance along the border. A smiling Poppy says with pride “We have to maintain the prestige of our uniform. The piercing hills are no match to our courage and determination.”
These fair sex commandos were so happy when they learnt that they would be deployed at 8000-14000 ft along the Himalayan border at the forward posts of ITBP. Their happiness can be gauged by the reaction from Deepika Tyagi of Hapur. When she was asked as to how they would deal with the cruelest nature within the minus temperature, she replied: “We don’t care. We aren’t anymore weaker limbs. We have such a commitment for the country that these snow-clad mountains would not dampen our spirits”. Selected for ITBP after her 12th exams, Deepika was thinking differently as compared to her colleagues. She has the spirit to do something for the country. As she received the call letter for the training, she was extremely happy. She sought the blessings of her grandparents and spread happiness on the faces of her parents. Her siblings spread the news in the entire village that their sister had become a ‘fauji’.
When asked as to how she felt after wearing the uniform, Deepika replied that it gave her a unique feeling of pride. It is ok with Papa but Maa is worried that now she would be far away from the house”. But she is confident that her mother would adjust with the situation.
During training period they were prepared to face the intolerable weather conditions, inhospitable geography and low pressure and paucity of oxygen along the Chinese border. It is not easy to patrol at the last village of Mana in Uttarkahand situated on the Chinese border as part of this paramilitary force, especially for those 500 selected young women who belong to the plains. Majority of them who completed training in January 2016 are from Uttarakhand (97). Then there are 10 from Himachal Pradesh, 51 from Bihar, 11 from Haryana, 22 from Rajasthan, 63 from UP and 35 belong to Maharashtra. Besides, there are 11 from Punjab, one each from Delhi, and Andhra, 35 from Assam, six from Chhattisgarh, 21 from Gujarat, 26 from Jharkhand and three from Jammu and Kashmir. Most of them are from common families.
Amandeep Kaur is one amongst these young ‘ready to be deployed at the border’ soldiers. She hails from Moga in Punjab and her father runs a vehicle workshop. Amandeep was attracted to army uniform since her childhood. When asked, “Has anyone from your family ever joined the forces?” “No”, said Amandeep,. “No one is now in the security forces. But my distantly related grandfather was in China. That kindled the attraction regarding that country. But I wanted to be a soldier since childhood”.
Amandeep is posted at Ladakh border and life there is not easy. We asked her, “Do your parents know about the difficult and inhospitable terrain of Ladakh?” “Yes, I heard of this. Parents are a bit worried. But nothing to worry. We have received very good training and we don’t care. I haven’t learnt to be afraid of anything. And when we are conducting vigil for the security of the country, there is no fear at all”, Amandeep boldly answered.
Really, if the daughters of mother Bharat are so brave, the enemy would not dare to indulge in any mischief. This spirit is strongly visible in Renu Arya from Haldwani in Uttarakhand. She was excited about the responsibility she would have to shoulder while returning home after completing training in Panchkula. “How do you feel to know that you would be part of women commando unit?” To this she replied, “It was a mixed feeling of completing the difficult training. My parents were worried over deployment at the border, but they agreed when I explained in detail to them about the training. There is nothing to worry. We have to warn the enemies and prevent them from any mischief. I told my family at home who were watching the Republic Day parade that I would be part of this Parade in near future. My younger brother Hitendra was very excited to hear this.” Renu has two brothers and one sister. When asked about the safety of women in present situation and how she felt after wearing uniform, she replied that her confidence level had gone up manifold. “I always liked to live the life in style and even to die in style”.
Similar feelings were expressed by Anushree of Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh. Born to Shreeniwas and Mamta Pathak, Anushree is so simple that you can hardly make out that she is the same girl who had undergone this rigorous training to become a commando. She has mastered the handling of modern weapons, and to control the enemy. She will be part of the high-altitude patrolling unit one day. Innocently she said that she was worried to see weapons before joining the training. “But now we handle them deftly. I have heard about the difficult terrain of the border. But I will go there and stay and adjust myself to the situation. There will be no difficulty at all. I have full faith in me,” she remembered.
They will be trained in high-altitude, snow-clad hills and vales warfare technique before posting. They will be taught how to control breathing in low oxygen availability and patrol the border. This will surely be done. But the most important is to prepare the mind to face all these difficulties and enhance the determination and commitment to the Nation.
And the first unit of ITBP women commandos have all these qualities that will make them best soldiers displaying the ITBP slogan of “Valour, Determination and Faith in Duty” through their actions, to show that they are as brave as any other male soldier even in this world.