“Having witnessed carnage in 1947 and two full-fledged wars with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971, I have no desire to see another war. It brings death, destruction and starvation,” says up 86-year old Dewan Chand of Chak Bhagwana, a village near Jourian, close to the Indo-Pak border.
While old men and women, who weathered Partition and wars, want to spend their remaining days in peace, villagers who migrated from forward villages in Pallanwala and reached here, are upset at the absence of any camp.
Jourian is about 55 km northwest of Jammu with a population of around 5,000 people.
Chand, though illiterate, says, “War is no solution to any problem. It heaps miseries on the poor. I have seen bloodbath and rapes in 1947 and also remember the 1965 and 1971 wars when we had to flee the village and face starvation before eventually being shifted to a camp in Mansar area of Samba district.”
Chand’s ancestral village was Malka (in Gujrat district of Pakistan) but he had settled in Bhimber in Mirpur district before fleeing Pakistan in 1947.
When asked to recollect his memories of wars, he says, “I still remember how, in the 1965 conflict, I, along with my mother, four brothers and a sister, had to flee our home in the dead of night when Pakistan rained bombs on Jourian. Bodies were strewn across the streets and men, women, children were screaming in terror,” he says. “I pray to the God that war should not happen because the poor people bear the maximum brunt,” he adds in a choked voice.
Durgi Devi, an 82-year old woman in Jourian, who has three sons and four daughters, also has a similar tale to tell.
When asked what she would do in case war breaks out again, she responds, “I don’t have the energy to run around anymore. I will not go anywhere. I know how my husband -- from his meagre earnings -- constructed this small house. If they (Pakistan) want to have another war, let them have it. Thrice we have been uprooted in 1947, 1965 and 1971.” Durgi Devi is originally from Kotli in Pakistan.
Says Kimbu Ram, an octogenarian, “The government has asked to vacate villages. Will there be a war again? Jourian resembled a ghost town in wars. So many innocent people died. Like several other poor families, I along with my mother and four other brothers survived on chapatis made up of rotten bajra (pearl millet)”.
Prakasho Devi of Budhwal village, who migrated on Thursday night to a relative’s house, was furious over “missing” camps. “Last night I along with my children had come here but found no camp. Subsequently, I had to go to a relative’s house, which was already full 10 to 12 other families,” she said.
Suram Chand, in whose house the families have taken refuge is also angry.“It is a war-like situation. Schools have been shut and the administration has asked villagers to vacate 10 km radius from border but there is no camp in Jourian. How can I keep 10 to 12 families under one roof?” he fumes.