None of the students of the government primary school turned up for classes on Saturday. But then who would dare to walk into a school building pockmarked with bullet holes from light machine guns (LMGs) and medium machine guns (MMGs), fired just the night before.
In this border village in the Pargwal area in Jammu’s Akhnoor sector, civilians are increasingly becoming the victims of ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops across the border.
Friday night was the worst in recent memory as Pakistani troops fired at 25 different locations in Jammu region, injuring two BSF jawans and frightening civilian population.
The village is situated just 400 metres from the international border and within the target range of Pakistan’s border outposts.
None of the 23 students enrolled in this three-room school turned up on Saturday after night-long firing and shelling.
“It would have been a nightmare had the firing been in the day time,” said Roshan Lal, the sole teacher in attendance, sitting in a deserted classroom.
A map of India hanging on a wall had prominently written on it: neighbours of India.
On Thursday, five people, including three children were injured in firing by Pakistani soldiers in the same village. About 60 people, who had gone to work on fields right on the zero line, were trapped when the firing started.
But it is not only classes which have been affected -- marriages and funerals have equally been hit. And cattle stranded on the zero line are starving for the last three days as security forces are not allowing people to move there.
Balkar Singh’s mother had died four days ago at Tanashani village, also along the border. While Saturday was fixed for a religious function, only a handful of relatives turned up.
“We can’t risk our lives in going there,” said Hoshiar Singh, a resident of Pargwal and a relative of Balkar. Pargwal is about 6 kms from here.
In neighbouring Mehat-di-Bhati village, the marriage ceremony of Taru Chand’s daughter on Saturday was pre-poned to 1 pm in the afternoon.
Kour Singh, whose daughter’s marriage has also been affected, said that “with only a few relatives attending the ceremony, all efforts have gone done the drain”.
The village along the border has a population of 500 people and life was relatively smooth in the last decade after the ceasefire agreement. But Friday night changed it all.
The flare-up along the border came just weeks after the prime ministers of the two countries pledged to restore calm along the Line of Control at a meeting in New York.