'Can work in peace', says Rajouri village sarpanch on LoC ceasefire

Updated on Feb 27, 2021 01:50 PM IST

For the past few years, Pakistan has engaged in shelling and firing along the LoC and the International Border (IB) resulting in casualties, damage to houses, schools, health centres and religious places.

Villagers from Pukharni village say the ceasefire violations led to injuries of several people in the village. (ANI/Twitter)
Villagers from Pukharni village say the ceasefire violations led to injuries of several people in the village. (ANI/Twitter)
By | Edited by Shankhyaneel Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The ceasefire announced by India and Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) has been appreciated widely across the world. The European Union said the agreement is an important step in the interest of regional peace and stability on which to further bilateral dialogue. The United States too welcomed the decision calling it a "positive step" towards greater peace and stability in South Asia.

But for people living in villages near the LoC - who were most affected by firing along the border - it's a major relief. The head or sarpanch of one such village thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan on Saturday for the ceasefire.

“We want to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan for the ceasefire announcement at LoC. Earlier, due to cross-border firing, several villagers died, while some lost their legs, eyes and their hands. We can now sleep and work in peace,” the sarpanch of Pukharni village was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. The village comes under the Rajouri district in Jammu and Kashmir.

For the past few years, Pakistan has engaged in shelling and firing along the LoC and the International Border (IB) resulting in casualties, damage to houses, schools, health centres and religious places.

"We have suffered a lot to due Pakistani firing and shelling.... Education of kids was affected. Houses were damaged. There were casualties. The fresh agreement of maintaining complete ceasefire is a happy news for us. Hope it stays," said another resident of Rajouri district.

However, Subash Chander, a panch, said it is difficult to trust Pakistan. Similar apprehension was raised by Kerni resident Mohmmad Ashraf who welcomed the fresh agreement but raised question over the intention of Pakistan.

On Thursday, India and Pakistan released a joint statement saying that they have held discussions regarding establishing a mechanism for hotline contact among both nations. Both sides also agreed to a ceasefire along the LoC from February 25. The announcement was made after a meeting between the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both the countries.

During the budget session of Parliament, Union minister G Kishan Reddy had pointed out that 341 civilians were injured due to ceasefire violations along the International Border (IB) and the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir in 2018, 2019 and 2020. The Union minister also said that 70 civilians died during these ceasefire violations. He said that in the past three years 10,752 cases of ceasefire violations had occurred along the LoC.

India’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August 2019 along with the Pulwama suicide attack in February 2019 led to strains between the relationship of both nations and subsequently affected the truce signed between both nations in November 2003 when India and Pakistan had agreed to a ceasefire on the LoC.

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