Hit hard by Pak, border residents skeptical of renewed dialogue

  • Tarun Upadhyay, Hindustan Times, Jammu
  • Updated: Jul 10, 2015 22:13 IST

Residents living near the International Border in Jammu, who have suffered a lot due to the frequent skirmishes between Indian and Pakistani armies, have expressed skepticism about the outcome of resumed dialogue process between the two countries.

The villagers see Friday's meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani Counterpart Nawaz Sharif as just another round of "symbolism" without much result on the ground.

"Is it for the first time that the two countries have decided to hold talks? And will Pakistan stop firing? On the contrary we fear the situation will start worsening along the border as tension has always escalated when the two countries decide to hold talks," said Surinder, whose four family members died in Pakistan firing at Mashain-de-Kothe, Arnia sector, last October.

Eight other people of the family were injured.

After the tragedy, the remaining members of the family shifted to Arnia town, about 4km from the border, although even that has been hit by shells from across the border.

However, another Arnia resident, Vivek, said holding talks wasn't entire insignificant. "Even though nothing substantial can be expected from the talks but it should be tried… as it's the people along both sides of the border who suffer the most in the hostile atmosphere," he said. Vivek's home has been damaged twice so far in Pakistan firing.

Last October, eight civilians died, while 72 were injured and about 60,000 people from the three border districts (Kathua, Samba and Jammu) had to move to safer place after tensions escalated on the border.

In March this year as well, about 40,000 people from Kathua, Samba and Jammu districts moved to safer place when firing again resumed.

Some of the shells fired by Pakistan had landed near the Jammu-Pathankote highway, about 15km from the border.

"We are living in a constant state of fear, fearing about the safety of our children, who have suffered psychologically and academically. There can't be any positive outcome from the talks, but if talks are the only solution then PM Modi should try to dictate terms and ensure peace along the border," said Vishal Bharti, a resident of Arnia.

In November last year five civilians were among the 12 people who died in a terrorists attack at Arnia.

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