BSF men at Creek face `reptilian` task

BSF personnel manning this marshy disputed area fight not only Pakistani infiltrators and smugglers but also snakes and scorpions.

Sir Creek (Gujarat): BSF personnel manning
this marshy disputed area fight not only Pakistani
infiltrators and smugglers but also snakes and scorpions.

The problem of infiltration, fishermen from across the
border entering Indian waters from creek areas and arms and
drugs smuggling are a regular feature at the Kutch border.

"Rann of Kutch is a peculiar terrain on the face of
earth without any parallel. It has different facets in
different seasons, like it remains inundated from May to
September. Thereafter it gradually starts drying leaving salt
crust at various places," says BSF DIG Vishnu Dutt.

Apart from the terrain, BSF men have to face danger
from snakes and scorpions. "There are at least one to two
cases of snake bite in a month. We have to keep stock of
anti-venom injections to meet such eventualities," says BSF
commandant Pushpendrasinh Rathore.

According to Dutt, slush underneath the patches makes
troop movement very difficult.

"During March and April, strong winds raise the salty
sand of Rann which restricts visibility to barely 10 yards and
any movement in this season is hazardous," he says.

The BSF apprehended 15 Pakistanis including an ISI
agent and seized three boats in the past three months in the
hostile creek and drain areas. They also managed to thwart an
infiltration bid of two boats in the Harami Nallah area.

At the end of Rann, starts the hostile Creek area
constituting raised grounds and having mangroves and a network
of channels which are quiet, shallow and where all movement
are creek dependent, Dutt says.

From May to September the creeks area is lashed by
very strong winds and water in the creeks is very turbulent.
Hence, the area remains almost inaccessible, he says.

"All terrain vehicles (ATVs) and hovercraft are
essential for domination of these areas. The central
government has sanctioned ATVs and hovercraft for the region,"
Dutt says.

Constable Shyam Singh on duty at No. 1175, the last
recognised international border pillar by India and Pakistan
in the Rann says, "In Kashmir there is snow while here it is
salt, which makes things difficult for us."

After this pillar, there is 104 km of disputed border
between India and Pakistan starting from Rann to the end of
Sir Creek.

While Pakistan claims the entire creek belongs it,
India`s stand is that as per international law on water bodies
-- mid navigational channel should be the boundary.

The dispute on the Sir Creek boundary dates back to
the erstwhile states of Kutch and Sindh and is not yet

The BSF has put six floating border outposts in the
creek areas to keep a tight vigil on intruders where their
officials stay for 20-25 days at a stretch in the sea.