Death of a 30-year-old woman in cross-border shelling at the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday evening, has triggered panic migration.
While the relief plan of local administration remains on paper, over two dozen border residents have taken refuge in a local shrine and several others have moved with their relatives. The government had sanctioned 200 bunkers last year but the construction work is yet to begin, according to the residents of Chhajla Patri village in Mendhar sector.
“Over 200 people are said to have left their home. A larger number however have stayed back to look after their cattle and crops,” said Mohammad Sayed, a local resident and Panchayat representative.
“Officials were quick to arrive at the village yesterday. But neither they nor the army can stop the shelling and firing. The government should find out a permanent solution. We have been suffering this for the past 30 years,” he exclaimed. “Bunkers and relief camps can’t be a solution to our problems. We want permanent peace.”
District Magistrate Rahul Yadav refuted reports of migration while Sub Divisional Magistrate Mendhar, Sahil Jandial, said that the administration had prepared a plan for setting up migrant camps. “We have identified schools where the migrant villagers would be shifted,” he said, but could not list the facilities that would be provided at the proposed camps.
“The villagers have taken shelter in ziarat on their own as it’s a sacrosanct place,” he maintained.
Since the IAF struck across the LoC, the forward Panchayat in Mankote area of Mendhar tehsil has again turned into a theatre of war, according to residents.
Amina Kausar was grazing her livestock when she got killed in a shell explosion.
Zakir Hussain (35), a soldier of the 3rd Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, who had come home on leave, was cutting firewood when another explosion left him injured near his home besides five others.
In view of the prevailing situation, schools located within two kms of the 744-km long LoC in Rajouri and Poonch and Baramulla districts besides the 198-km International Border in Samba, Kathua and Jammu district have been closed temporarily.
A civilian was injured on Friday after Pakistani troops opened fire along the LoC in Uri sector of Baramulla.
Jammu and Kashmir recorded 2,936 instances of ceasefire violations by Pakistan in 2018—the highest in the past 15 years with an average of eight cases daily—in which 61 people were killed and over 250 injured, the intensity of truce violations has further gone up this year after Pulwama suicide bombing.
The 2003 truce agreement between India and Pakistan, which had brought immense relief to border residents, has now become redundant, point out observers.