Other States

Army raising 3 porter companies in Arunachal Pradesh

The porter-raising ceremony organised by the Army’s 22 Mahar Regiment in West Kameng district on July 3, 2020.

The porter-raising ceremony organised by the Army’s 22 Mahar Regiment in West Kameng district on July 3, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Days after the stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers at Galwan Valley in Ladakh, the Indian Army has begun the process of employing 1,800 porters temporarily in Arunachal Pradesh.

Officials said three companies would be raised in coordination with the State’s Labour Department. One of these companies is for Tawang region that has been central to China’s claim over the State since the 1962 aggression.

The Army periodically takes in porters for about six months to carry essentials and equipment to and from forward posts in the high altitudes across the Himalayan belt. Each porter is “treated like a soldier” during his tenure, renewable depending upon the need for their services.

Timing of drive

What has made the raising of the porter companies significant is the timing of the “recruitment drive” — from July 1-12 — and the element of patriotism thrown in by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu. Such rallies are usually held in August or September.

“This is a great time for our unemployed youths to showcase their unflinching patriotism by working alongside the brave Indian Army. This opportunity offers you not only employment but also the best chance to serve the nation,” he said, addressing the porter-raising ceremony organised by the Army’s 22 Mahar Regiment in West Kameng district on July 3.

A local NGO named Yuva Arunachal had campaigned to mobilise the youth across the State to avail of the opportunity to join the Army indirectly. The response, State government officials said, has been overwhelming, unlike the last time “when a few hundred” turned up.

A senior Army officer, who had been on the board for selecting porters said the porters are paid according to the wage for unskilled labourers fixed by the Labour Department of the State concerned from time to time. Army and Labour officers make up the board.

‘Indispensable’

“Although we have mules, porters are indispensable for logistic support in areas where vehicles cannot go. Fit locals acquainted with terrain and climatic conditions are assets, and their services are renewed on requirement particularly during the winter season,” the officer said, seeking anonymity.

“The porters are insured and they are treated like faujis, provided food, shelter, medical aid and uniform-like clothes. Some porters may also be recruited during exigencies,” the officer added.

Until its Statehood in 1987, Arunachal Pradesh used to appoint porters for its Auxiliary Labour Corps formed during the British rule. They were used for various civilian services in areas without roads or for supplying essentials to remote areas.

The Army, officials said, has been providing temporary employment for annual sustenance of the porters and their families.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 3:22:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/army-raising-porter-companies-in-arunachal/article31988485.ece

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