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Border villages see construction boom

india Updated: Nov 24, 2006 20:54 IST
Arun Joshi
Highlight Story

The horrible days of intense exchange of fire and mortar shells have been long forgotten here. It's construction time or to put it more appositely - it is construction boom at the borders.

Three years ago, prior to the November 26, 2003 ceasefire, Suchetgarh used to be a ghost village. Many residents had fled their mud and timber homes, perforated by shells from across the border.

The ceasefire has brought about dramatic change in the life of the people.

The ceasefire has transformed the lives of the people living on borders - whether international border or the Line of Control.

From Kathua to Kargil, it is the story of reconstruction and construction.

Both Delhi and Islamabad had agreed to have a cease-fire from midnight of November 25-26, 2003. November 26 was Id-ul-Fitr day. It is also known as Id ceasefire.

Today, Suchetgarh village is witnessing a construction boom.

New brick and cement houses have come up in this village right at the Indo-Pak border. Aggressive construction activity in private and public sector is at its peak and the residents want it to be the most developed village in Jammu and Kashmir.

The government has sharpened its appetite for development with its plans to construct it as a “model village”.

Nand Lal, a farmer in his early sixties, had never dreamed that he would be back in his village and construct his house. When he returned to the house in December 2003 after spending ignominious days at a migrant camp, he had lost faith in the land.

“The ceasefire has returned faith in our land.” Nand Lal is now constructing a double-storey house, less than half-a-km from zero line. It was having holes made by the mortar shells.

This faith in the land has come after Nand Lal and rest of the village experienced peace on borders. “Not even a single shot has been fired after the ceasefire”, Nand Lal said. “During pre-ceasefire period, hundreds of bullets would fly.”

“At times we had to attend to the call of nature by hiding behind walls. We used to duck down, then peep and our instincts guided us what to do. At times they failed us. But that was the time.”

No one in the village of 239 families having a population of little over 1,000, which also boasts of having 7,000 buffaloes, has time for what happened three years ago.

Prakasho Devi in her seventies is knitting a sweater, basking in the warmth of sun. “You see how much construction is going on. You should see our new buildings coming up, new roads, lanes and bylanes being laid. Everything is new.

We are having new lanes and drains. Soon we will be like Jammu (the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir).”

For her Jammu is ultimate, when it comes to defining development.

The Government has adopted Suchetgarh as a model village. Nirmal Singh, engineer, who is looking after works, rushes to a roadside as the flat bed tipper rush on the road. “We had started this work in June-July and within next few weeks, we will be completing the whole thing.

Apart from a community centre, computer room, the work is continuing on other community buildings. A park and playing field are also to be constructed.

Three years ago, nearly 300,000 families along the international border and LoC belt were uprooted from their homes. Schools were closed and fields were mined and the armies were facing each other.

Happy times are back for them.

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