India-Pak tension keeps BSF busy at Sir Creek estuary

Although the Arabian Sea has been used by the Pakistan-based smugglers through shores like Jhakhau, Mandavi and Porbandar, there is not a single incident that has been reported from Sir Creek border

BSF jawans patrolling near Cori Creek in Kutch district. DH photo/Satish Jha

Ever since the tension mounted between India and Pakistan following Uri and Balakot incidents last year, the security of 100-km tidal estuary Sir Creek, the marshy, treacherous and uninhabited water on the international border has come to prominence. Although there is no recent history of infiltration bids except regular apprehension of fishermen or fishing boats from Pakistan landing on the Indian side, the Border Security Force (BSF), that mans the area, has been on its toes securing the area.

The tension has only resulted in BSF jawans spending more time in the harshest condition along the International Maritime Border. Instead of patrolling the border for six to seven months a year, the BSF has now stationed its manpower all around the year. Earlier, in monsoon when the weather conditions worsened, the BSF used to come back to safe areas.

“Since June 9, we decided to make it (the vigil) a round-the-year affair. Only in case of extreme weather conditions do we leave the area. The border is secured and not a single incident of infiltration or any smuggling bid has ever occurred through this area in recent past,” said G S Malik, Inspector General of Police, BSF, Gujarat Frontier.

Staying in this water along the international maritime border is an arduous task. The strong wind laced with high salt content makes the jawans sick most of the time. Even patrolling in the strong wind becomes a back-breaking exercise. Recently, the BSF has deployed a team called “Crocodile Commando” which is specialised in swimming in rough water, walking through the marshy land, firing from the speed boat among other tactics.

There are five major creeks including Kori and Sir Creeks, a number of water channels and over three dozen bets or soil depositions on Indus river delta. Navigating through these through high or low tides coming from the Arabian Sea is quite a challenge. Officers say that there are places where not even GPS works. The BSF has been regularly seizing Pakistani fishermen and their boats at Harami Nallah in Sir Creek that engage in fishing. BSF says that this area is full of crabs for which the fishermen throng the troubled water. A senior officer says that on an average 20 to 25 such events are reported in a year.

Although the Arabian Sea has been used by the Pakistan-based smugglers through shores like Jhakhau, Mandavi and Porbandar, there is not a single incident that has been reported from Sir Creek border.   The BSF’s jurisdiction starts from Koteshwar, where the famous Shiva temple is located. This is the village from where Kori Creek starts. The BSF has to navigate through six creeks and many channels covering roughly 40 km distance to reach the maritime border. The distance, based on weather condition, takes nearly four hours.

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