Leh: Amid the stand-off with China across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, the Indian Army conducted its annual porter recruitment rally in Leh indicating that the border construction activities will go on despite the Chinese threat.
As many as 1,000 applicants showed up for the rally held on 20 June, said sources in the Army and the Union territory administration.
The selection process was underway, the sources said, adding that this year’s rally was delayed because of nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Asked about the placement of selected candidates, Army sources said that they can be sent anywhere in the Ladakh region to work, and not necessarily around the LAC.
“These seasonal recruitments are done for six months each year,” officials in the Defence Labour Procurement Department said.
While the recruitment rally was held five days after the Galwan clash at the LAC, sources said the two events have no connection. Recruitment rallies take place every year, so there was no difference this time, the sources added.
Even though China has objected to a spate of construction activities near the LAC, India has made it clear that the work will go on. A bridge over the Shyok river was completed during the standoff, with its operation beginning last week.
Porters are recruited for construction works by the Army every year. They also play an important part during war time by helping the Army transport weapons and ammunition.
As many as seven porters lost their lives during the Kargil conflict in 1999 when Pakistani forces entered Indian territory.
‘Ready to work as well as fight’
ThePrint met some applicants in Leh, who had worked as porters during the 1999 Kargil conflict.
“We are ready to work as a porter as well as to fight for the country,” said a 48-year-old applicant.
Another applicant said people of Ladakh don’t have many options when it comes to employment. “So we work as a porter for the Army for six months and earn our livelihood.”
Given the current Covid-19 situation, officials in the UT’s Defence Labour Procurement Department said the selected candidates will be quarantined for two weeks before being sent out to work in multiple places in Ladakh.
The sources added that the process will be completed by 27 June and the selected porters will be sent to the unit location by July.