First BSF woman officer will miss coffee at border

First BSF woman officer will miss coffee at border
She was born in a place surrounded by the Thar desert and now serendipitous deserted borders are destined to be her home for a long time. On March 25 Rajasthan’s Tanushree Pareek was commissioned as the first woman combat officer in the 51-year-old Border Security  Force (BSF).

For a girl brought up in traditional Rajasthan family in Bikaner,  Tanushree is very happy about her achievement. Tanushree, fondly called Tanu, by her family members is dear to everyone. She is studious, affectionate and social.

Recalling her childhood, she told DH “My father is a veterinary doctor and we lived in a joint family. It helped me groom myself better.A joint family makes you strong.”

She studied at Sophia school and Aadarsh Vidhya Mandir in Bikaner and Sujangarh, respectively. Tanu admitted,“I was always a topper in the class. And science was my favourite subject because I used to score well in it.”   She said, “I cleared civil services mains but didn't attend the interview as I was away for training. I have decided to stick to the BSF.” 

A BTech from Bikaner Engineering College in electronics and communication, Tanu appeared for the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and UPSC examination. In 2013, the BSF allowed women to apply for operation duty. In July next year, Tanu became the first woman assistant commandant.  The Union home minister himself put the rank star on her shoulders during the piping ceremony. 

On her experience, she said, “During the training they don't treat me as a woman, but a human being. There is no quota for women. But the training is one of the toughest. Even the punishment is harsh.”  Of the 66 selected, only 51 completed the training.

She is against reservation in elite services or other competitive exams. “I think reservation system should be abolished. It’s a time that we give preference to talent rather than old caste system,” she added.

On families still discriminating between a boy and girl, she said, “Since I belong to Rajasthan I am aware that girls are not treated equally in our state. I believe my story can inspire parents to raise their children, providing equal opportunities.”

On her success, Tanu said, “I think my parents, especially my father, has raised me to become a good human being. I am the eldest among two girls. My father always supported me in chasing my dreams and doing whatever I wished to do in life. I think that really matters.” She is a role model for her younger sister who is studying MBBS and to her cousins.

At the conclusion of the 52-week Assistant Commandant training programme of the 40th batch of the BSF, she led the passing-out parade. Tanu will be posted to command a unit of the 105th Battalion along the Indo-Pak border in Firozpur. 

She received a hero's welcome at her village. She has decided to spend time with family before taking up the new assignment. Thousands of people welcomed the daughter of Bikaner and thronged the streets to have a glimpse of her as she was taken around the city in a procession in an open jeep.

Crowd cheered her while residents stood in queue outside her house to felicitate her with garlands and bouquets. 

Her father S P Joshi told Deccan Herald, “We are all excited to have her back home after 13 months of rigorous training. She wants to spend time with family and friends because after that she will be away at the border. While she was away at the training she used to be in touch with us every day over phone."

Mother misses her
Manju Pareek, a homemaker, adds, “Being a mother I will miss her but at the same time we are proud that she will be guarding her motherland.” 
 
At home, she has been spending time like any other girl with her sister and friends and relatives. She is excited about her new responsibility but will be missing her cozy bedroom, pizza and travelling.

“I am attached to my new house as I have seen it being built in front of my eyes. I will miss my sister's company. But now my duty comes first,” the engineering graduate said.

Tanushree, who calls herself an ardent traveller and music buff, is apprehensive of missing out on both. “Well, I love to travel alone. My travel plans are sudden and exploratory. I am fond of interacting with locals. Goa is my favourite hangout and it seems it’d be difficult to visit it again,” she says.

 She laments that she has not been able to visit Kashmir and Northeast so far. But now she is hoping she will get a chance to visit them during her duty.

When asked about the suicides in the Army and measures to cope with them, she says, "Well it’s all in the mind. We need to be strong there. There are less suicides in the Army compared to civilians. I have planned to keep my hobby alive at the border. I will be sketching there.” She is also fond of writing diary and poetry. 

On the changes in her after joining the BSF,  she said with a smile, “Earlier I was not an early bird. Now, I sleep on time and wake up early. I was fond of junk food. But I have lost 15 kg after joining the force.”

She says she had never worn a saree. Now, she has to as it is compulsory dress while on duty and for gettogethers.

“One thing for sure, I will be missing my pizza and cakes while on duty at the border. I have decided to fill my baggage with coffee sachets as I madly love coffee,” she said.

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