India and Pakistan may be exchanging cryptic peace proposals, but down at the Line of Control (LoC), the army is taking no chances. In one of the most risk-fraught missions it has undertaken in recent times, it is fencing close to 490 km along the LoC, in the face of the combined hostilities of the terrain, the weather and the enemy.
"We hope when the fencing mission is complete, it will beef up our counter-insurgency operations and cut down infiltration," says Brig K.V.S. Lalotra of the 120 Infantry Brigade in Bimber Gali, Rajouri. Infiltrators favour the area under his command because of the passes here that are difficult to patrol. Through Bimber Gali and Mendhar—which have both seen fierce encounters between infiltrators and security forces this year—terrorists have managed to cross into the Kashmir Valley, and into Doda and Kishtwar. But, says Lalotra, "It will all be different when the fence comes up."
So, what exactly does it take to fence a kilometre?
Approximately 260 aggregate tonnage of cement, sand, iron pickets and steel wire in terms of...