I hail from Garhwal and grew up seeing my uncles and elder brothers in the village donning the forces’ uniforms. I knew very little about the secular character of the security forces then. But it is something that I have learnt to cherish from my memories of when I was commissioned in the Border Security Force and was posted in the far flung Nagaland hills.
The BSF is a true showcase of unity in diversity as the troops are from all races, religions, languages and represent all nooks and corners of India. As part of the force, I enjoyed Navratri and Eid the same way as I did Christmas or Guruparb. I still recall a particular incident involving an old BSF warrior quite vividly…
A church of faith
There was a BSF heavy vehicle driver from Sema tribe of Nagaland who drove all the way from Jammu to Kohima (Nagaland) on a duty along with one Sikh constable as an aide. There were no mobile phones those days and we learnt of their well being only when they reported safely at our Battalion Motor Transport fleet.
During his debriefing interview this is how he described their stopovers along the journey — “Saab, hum log raaste mein sabhi jageh Sardaron ke church mein ruke.” (Sir, we stayed in the churches of Sikhs en-route). The two had stayed in gurudwaras all the way and treasured the hospitality of langar (kitchen) as well! True character of a soldier lies in secularism and we all salute this, which alas, is not seen in other walks of life.