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Andamans diary

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are often referred to as the remotest outpost of India, but what does it mean to all of us, most importantly to the people living on the islands? One can imagine a mass

Published: 14th December 2017 01:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th December 2017 01:51 PM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

Natural aircraft carrier

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are often referred to as the remotest outpost of India, but what does it mean to all of us, most importantly to the people living on the islands? One can imagine a massive aircraft carrier bristling with guns and cannons, with fighter aircraft and helicopters on board giving it massive firepower.

In simple terms, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are like a massive natural aircraft carrier stationed nearly 1,200 km away from the Indian mainland. A defence base in such a location gives India tremendous strategic advantage in South East Asia.

Remotest of the remote outposts

Many may not be aware that there are several remote outposts even among the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These outposts are not only far from the other prominent and inhabited islands which are tourists’ favourites, but also tough territory to inhabit and guard.

In the absence of the Border Security Force (BSF), these remote outposts are guarded by the Andaman and Nicobar Police and the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRBN). The locals refer to these outposts as lookout posts, and though they are guarded by police and IRBN personnel, most of the transportation and airlift support for this purpose is provided by the armed forces.

Poisonous encounters

East Island, Narcondum Island, and Indira Point are believed to be the most difficult outposts in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and only a handful of police and IRBN personnel are sent there on a month’s duty, as there is no mobile phone network, electricity or cable television in these outposts.

The security personnel also face threats from deadly snakes and poachers from Myanmar, with only their radio sets, which offer patchy communications, to fall back on. The police teams in these outposts use bleaching powder and camp fires to keep snakes at bay. There have been several incidents when jawans were evacuated by helicopter after snakebite.

Threat from cyclone, tsunami

Perhaps the biggest threat police and IRBN jawans serving in these remote posts face is from natural calamities such as a tsunami or cyclone. Nearly four years ago, the lookout post of East Island suffered extensive damage from a cyclone, and though all their rations were washed away, the Jawans did not abandon their post.

Indira Point, the southernmost tip of Indian territory, is a lookout post guarded round the clock by a few jawans. Indira Point is flat land, and was badly hit by the 2004 tsunami. The Narcondum post is actually a dormant volcano, and in 2005 this post was withdrawn when some of the mud volcanoes on the Island became very active soon after the Barren Volcano erupted.

Sanjib Kumar Roy

Our correspondent in Andaman and Nicobar Islands

laurelsforsanjib@gmail.com



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