Fear and uncertainty gripped Jammu’s border villages on Tuesday as thousands of people migrated to safer places and nearby camps to escape Pakistani mortars that have been pounding the area for the past two days.About 10,000 people left behind their shops and their cattle after more than 200 shells rained down on their houses, killing five civilians on Monday in the highest civilian death toll in a day of shelling in a decade.
People migrate to safer places anticipating firing from the Pakistan side of the border at Arnia village in Ranbir Singh Pura, Jammu.(Nitin Kanotra/HT Photo)
“Is there no end to it? When will we return to our homes?” asked Rano Devi, a resident of the 15-odd villages that bore the brunt of the cross-border firing. “Our cattle, our only source of income, will die unattended.”Rano is one of about 2,000 people who have moved to three relief camps set up by the government for the 15,000 residents of the area.
Villagers take shelter at a government school in Ranbir Singh Pura region. (Nitin Kanotra/HT Photo)
In the RS Pura sector, which was also targeted by Pakistani mortar bombs, the government has been making public announcements asking people to move to the three camps.
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But some people said they were tired of moving every time Pakistani forces attacked their villages.
“How long will we keep on migrating? We have been suffering since 1947 because of Pakistan. It’s now our final place and even the fear of death can’t move us out,” said Natha Singh, resident of Treva village, whose house was damaged in the shelling.India and Pakistan often exchange fire on the border and the latest firing intensified after Pakistani shells ripped apart hundreds of houses along the Indian border on Monday night.
A wall damaged by a mortar shell allegedly fired from Pakistan's side at Arnia village in Ranbir Singh Pura, Jammu.(Nitin Kanotra/HT Photo)
Krishan Lal of Arnia says he just spent Rs 1 lakh to paint the walls of his house ahead of his daughter’s wedding in December. On Monday, a shell exploded ripping apart a major part of his house.
“The firing has not only hit me financially but also hit my daughter psychologically,” said Krishan Lal, who has since moved to a camp.
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In pics: Arnia, the village under Pakistani fire