Border guarding force SSB has cancelled Diwali leave of its officers commanding battalions deployed along the Indo-Nepal border in view of the prevailing situation in the neighbouring country and the declaration of poll results in Bihar.
The paramilitary’s headquarter here has asked its field formations to implement the latest directive, also for Bhutan border, with an immediate effect and not allow any Casual Leave (CL) or Earned Leave (EL) for unit commanders in and around Diwali except on "extreme emergent grounds".
While an official order issued in this regard said the step has been taken keeping in view the morale of thousands of jawans who could not not go home on the festival of Diwali, Sashastra Seema Bal chief B D Sharma said the directions have been issued keeping in mind the prevailing security situation especially along the Nepal border and the declaration of Assembly poll results in Bihar.
"It has been observed that many officers are proceeding on leave to celebrate Deepawali festival with their families.
"DG (Director General) has taken a serious view in the matter and instructed that officers must set an example and be present in the companies and border posts as well as in all field units and celebrate this festival with jawans who get relatively less opportunities to go on leave," the order said.
When contacted, Sharma said that the order was issued keeping in mind the morale and well being of the troops deployed all along the Nepal and Bhutan borders and the present security situation also warranted officers and other junior commanders to be on ground.
"We understand Deepawali is an important festival for everyone but the situation across the border in Nepal and the announcement of Bihar polls result are some developments that we are looking at.
"Not only the decision was taken to build up bonding between jawans and officers in the force, it was also aimed at ensuring that we have the maximum presence and dominance in border areas along both Nepal and Bhutan," he said.
The SSB guards the 1,751 km long Indo-Nepal frontier and 800 kilometres is along Bihar.
Poll results were declared on Sunday for the 243 seat Bihar Assembly and the next few days will see a new government taking charge of the state.
The other border that SSB guards is the 699km Indo-Bhutan frontier.
Political crisis and protests by Madhesis in border areas between India and Nepal has been continuing for many days now and recently an Indian was killed in the firing by Nepalese security forces who were quelling the protestors.
While there have been differing opinions in the about 70,000 personnel strong force about the latest order, a number of officials and jawans PTI spoke to said the new directive will surely bring in larger camaraderie and esprit de corps in the force.
"It is a good decision. It has never happened in the force that officers stay back in full numbers to celebrate a big festival like Deepawali with jawans who are the bulk of the strength of the border guarding units.
"This will send a good message that their seniors are with them and care for them," a senior official said.
The SSB headquarters is expected to chart out a new plan for giving leaves to its officers and jawans during major festivals from the next time, an official said.