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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Fear persists as border dwellers return home

PTI  RS Pura Border (J&K), August 31, 2014
First Published: 18:52 IST(31/8/2014) | Last Updated: 19:00 IST(31/8/2014)

As guns fell silent, over 4,000 border villagers returned to their homes in dozens of hamlets along the International Border (IB) in Jammu sector amid fear of firing and shelling by Pakistani troops.

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After the truce called by Indian and Pakistani forces at flag meetings recently, normal life resumed in the region today as people were seen cleaning their homes and doing other chores while some farmers along the border in R S Pura were trying to irrigate Basmati rice fields.

However, fear is writ large on the faces of people living in dozens of villages, particularly Suchetgarh, Jabowal, Pindi Chadka, Sai, Abdullian, Bera, Jora Farm, Treva and others as people feel Pakistan can resort to firing and shelling any time and throw their lives out of gear.

"We have returned to our village last night after a week of staying in safe shelter in view of the border firing by Pakistan," said Kailasho Devi of Sai village, who was cleaning her house and doing other chores.

She expressed apprehensions of firing by Pakistani forces, but stressed that home was better than the shelters.

"We don't trust Pakistan. They can fire anytime, but we are very happy to return to our homes. It is better to live in our homes than in shelter places," she said.

Over 4,000 people of 20 villages were evacuated by the administration and put in safe shelters in R S Pura, Arnia and Ramgarh belts of Jammu and Samba districts on August 24 in view of the repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces.

Three persons were killed and 17 others, including 4 BSF jawans, injured, in the firing along the border in Jammu and Samba sector in August.

The return of the villagers has been possible after Indian and Pakistani forces held three flag meetings from August 27 to 29 in which it was decided to maintain border truce.

"All the border villagers, who escaped shelling and firing and were staying for the past week in safe shelters in R S Pura teshil, have returned back to their homes and hearths in border villages along IB in Jammu," district development commissioner (DDC), Jammu, Ajeet Sahu said.

However, some of the villagers, who returned to their homes in view of the directions from the administration, felt that it was done in hurry and they should have waited for a few more days.

"We do not trust Pakistan. Administration should not have taken a hurried decision to close shelter camps and move people back to their village. They should have waited for few more days," an elderly villager Mohan Lal said.

"We are not happy over the decision of the administration to ask us to leave the camp and return to villages," Bera village Nai Sarpanch Vijay Chib said and reiterated Kailasho Devi's fears of Pakistani firing.

"Fear is writ large on the faces of all the people in border hamlets as they fear that Pakistan may resort to firing any time," he said.

However, R S Pura sub divisional magistrate Rajinder Sharma said that the border migrants were never asked to leave the camps at all.

Sarpanches of Jabowal, Pindi Chadka and Chingiya villages, Avtar Singh, Rajinder Singh and Dr Ragbir Singh respectively also hoped for peace but said the villagers will continue to live under the shadow of fear.

"The internal situation in Pakistan is very bad. If army takes the reign in its hands in case of fall of the democratic government, then tension along borders will activate again, which will bad for us," said one of the sarpanches.

There has been 98 ceasefire violations along LoC and 36 violations along IB in Jammu and Kashmir during this year.

There has been over 350 ceasefire violations by Pak troops along Indo-Pak border in 2013.

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