People along LoC to be provided with sandbags
The Centre will also reimburse the expenses incurred by the state government for providing the sandbags to the civilian population living along the 704km LoC.india Updated: Mar 23, 2018 23:45 IST
The Centre has asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to provide sandbags to people living along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan to fortify and protect their houses from cross-border shelling, a home ministry official said on Friday.
The Centre will also reimburse the expenses incurred by the state government for providing the sandbags to the civilian population living along the 704km LoC.
Tensions have spiked along the border in recent months with India accusing Pakistan of repeatedly targeting civilian the population.
The home ministry recently informed Parliament that Pakistan violated the ceasefire along the LoC 432 times and 201 times along the International Border in which 10 security personnel and 12 civilians were killed.
In the past three years, the number of civilian casualties was between 12 to 16. Last year, the number of ceasefire violations along the LoC was 860. The LoC is under the operational control of the Army.
“We are taking all precautions to safeguard our citizens,” a senior home ministry official said but refused to answer whether the government anticipated the situation along the LoC to deteriorate.
As reported by HT, a study group constituted by the home ministry had recommended that the Centre compensate victims whose houses, crops, and cattle suffer damages during ceasefire violations.
While the sandbags are likely to provide cover from small arms firing, officials said shelling by Pakistani rangers will require heavier reinforcements.
J&K government spokesperson and minister of the states public works department minister Naeem Akhtar termed the move necessary but added that providing sandbags was a “first aid solution”.
“The key to the problem lies in providing a long term resolution for the state which has been battered by turmoil since decades,” Akhtar told HT.
Sandbags, which are mostly used to either make bunkers or surround concrete ones, are already used by multiple households along LOC but they are either provided by the state government or, in some most cases, purchased by the people.
India and Pakistan frequently accuse each other of violating a 2003 truce along the de facto border between the countries, one of the most volatile military zones in the world.