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Two families seek help after Pak shells kill father, mother

The sole bread winner of the family was among a dozen people, including soldiers, killed in the heavy Pakistani shelling along the border in Jammu and Kashmir since Thursday. The situation was particularly bad in Jammu and Poonch districts.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2018 23:22 IST
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times
Ceasefire violation,Mortar shelling,Pakistan
Locals assess the damage caused due to the cross-border shelling by Pakistan at the international border at Kanachak village, in Jammu on Saturday. (PTI Photo)

People huddled around Shakandhya Devi at a relief camp in RS Pura town let her cry aloud when an urn containing ashes of her husband’s mortal remains were shown to the woman on Monday.

She and daughter Shilpi have been weeping intermittently, the hollow of their eyes and dark circles around them showed as much, ever since a Pakistani shell exploded near Ghar Singh in the crop fields of their village, Bera, close to the border on Saturday morning.

Marginal farmer Singh had gone to the fields to rescue the family cow from the mortar shells. Splinters from one such deadly munition cut him down.

The father of three sons and a daughter was cremated by Saturday afternoon and the family left for RS Pura town to escape the relentless Pakistani attack with artillery and machine gun fire on frontier civilian areas.

The sole bread winner of the family was among a dozen people, including soldiers, killed in the heavy Pakistani shelling along the border in Jammu and Kashmir since Thursday. The situation was particularly bad in Jammu and Poonch districts.

Singh’s eldest son Rakesh lit the pyre on Saturday, with mortar shells and bullets flying overhead.

“Our father died for the country. This government provides jobs to stone-throwers and kin of terrorists. Can’t any of us get a government job to sustain our family?” asked the jobless man.

He continued in a trembling voice: “Our world has turned upside down. We are marginal farmers; we do farming for others. Can Rs 1 lakh compensate a human life?”

The family feared for their small, mud-stone home too. Is it still standing?

Nearly 15km from the camp, another family mourned the death of a beloved mother — 50-year-old Bachno Devi of Sai Khurd village in Arnia.

Living barely 1.5km from the border, she had opened the door of her house hearing husband Jeet Raj screaming in agony. He was hit by a Pakistani shell in the verandah on Friday morning.

Raj was trying to tell his family to stay safe inside. But the moment his wife opened the door, a shell came flying and exploded near her. She was killed instantly.

“Shrapnel hit my mother’s neck,” said Devi’s 18-year-old son Ravi Kumar, who was wounded too.

The family with a small land holding has three daughters and two sons. Eldest son Babu Ram, 21, and Ravi Kumar have passed their Class 10 finals, but are jobless. The father worked as a farmhand in the village.

“My father has shrapnel wounds in both legs and a thigh. The shrapnel have not been removed and we fear he may not be able to work again … We pray to the government to provide us a government job,” Babu Ram said.

First Published: Jan 22, 2018 21:09 IST