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Firing on LoC makes life ‘living hell’ for villages near border

Mortar explosions and machine gun firing have intensified along the border since January 17.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2018 22:32 IST
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Arnia (Jammu)
Indo-Pak border,International Border,Line of Control
Border villagers move with their belongings to a safer place during shelling from the Pakistani side of the border at Arnia sector, in Jammu, on January 19.(Nitin Kanotra /HT Photo)

“It’s not a warlike situation, it’s a war. We are running for our lives. While we have managed to flee, there are many hiding inside their houses because Pakistan is raining bombs,” said 47-year old Darshan Lal. Along with his family of five, Lal was seen scampering past a bridge that connects Arnia town with the mainland.

Reluctant to talk a lot, Lal said that life has become a living hell for him and thousands of villagers who live close to the border with Pakistan.

He said, “Sitting in comfort zones thousands of miles away from the border, it is very easy for politicians to give a war cry because they are not in the line of direct fire.”

A total of 457 villages with a population of 4,51,856 are located on the International Border (IB) and the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Rajouri, and Poonch districts of Jammu region.

Some of the villages in Arnia — the epicentre of the skirmishes since Wednesday — are virtually in the line of Pakistani weapons. One of them is Allah, located barely two to three kilometres away from the zero line.

Hari Singh of Chachwal village said that Pakistan has not only ruined their lives but also that of their children.

“Their schooling is constantly being hampered because of firing and shelling. A chill runs down the spine at the thought of losing your child but there are families on border who have lost their kith and kin. The pain and agony of losing a family member haunts you for the rest of your life,” he said.

People with their belongings on a vehicle as shelling intensify from the Pakistani side at Arnia sector, in Jammu, on January 19. (Nitin Kanotra /HT Photo)

Deafening sounds of mortar explosions and machine gun fire, with a deserted Arnia town and villages, bore testimony to the fact that things had turned ugly since Wednesday.

Harried villagers were seen running to safer places with their children and daily belongings.

Beaso Devi of Korotana said, “Farming, schooling and cattle rearing…everything on which we survive comes to a halt during such flare-ups. We lose family members, crops, cattle and houses to Pakistan firing but who is bothered?”

Beaso Devi added that people from villages in safer areas are hesitant to marry off their daughters to “our sons because they see border villages as death traps”.

Kartar Singh, a septuagenarian from Arnia, said, “On either side of the border, a poor man and his family gets killed. It should stop. For how long will hapless and poor villagers keep dying like this?”

Singh said that all his life he had not witnessed any serious effort by governments to end their miseries. “Now they say that bunkers in houses will be constructed. I hope and pray bunkers are constructed on a war footing. At least people can save their lives,” he added.

A majority of the people also complained about inadequate medical facilities, ambulances, doctors and paramedical staff, and bulletproof vehicles to treat and evacuate them at the time of contingency.

First Published: Jan 19, 2018 20:43 IST