At this post, shadows are not long or dark

As the nation remembered the martyrs of the 1962 India-China war, it was just another day at work for the Alpha Company of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police's 17 Battalion manning the border post at Shipki La.

Located at an altitude of 13,123 ft above sea level in Himachal Pradesh's Kinnaur district, the post that came up in 1964 is just 200 metres from the international border and surrounded on three sides by China. The weather is extreme, with temperatures known to plummet up to -20 degrees.

The men posted at the border said they were acutely aware of the significance of Saturday. While previous anniversaries of the 1962 war went unnoticed here, it's hard to stay disconnected now with DTH connections and four beaming TV sets.

"We told our jawans about today and why it is important. The mood is quite upbeat here. Kuch bhi hoga toh hum tayyar hain (We are prepared for any eventuality)," said Inspector Hans Raj Sharma, the second-in-command.

While a small portion on the Indian side has a fence, the remaining area, mainly mountainous, is patrolled 24x7 by jawans in shifts.

Traders from Indian side cross over to Shipki village, which falls in China, for trade. Unlike the areas just across Aruanchal Pradesh that China has taken care to develop, only a dusty road can be seen on the other side here. Neither are there any Chinese posts or bunkers.

All along the way as one drives up from Pooh to Shipki La, rocks have a message painted on them: "Your attitude determines your altitude." The men guarding the country's frontiers here would agree.

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