2 lakh people along LoC feel unsafe in absence of bunkers

A shell fired by Pakistani troops lying outside the house of an Army man in Chakra village near LoC in Uri. —Excelsior Photo
A shell fired by Pakistani troops lying outside the house of an Army man in Chakra village near LoC in Uri. —Excelsior Photo

Fayaz Bukhari

Uri, Oct 2: Over two lakh people living near the Line of Control (LoC) in North Kashmir are facing threat of shelling from across the LoC which has intensified after August 5 this year and people are craving for underground bunkers for safety.
After 2003 LoC ceasefire between India and Pakistan, people living along the LoC in Uri, Tanghdar, Keran, Gurez and other areas were living peacefully without any threat of shelling. But for last two months, they are terrified after the frequent LoC shelling in which dozens of houses were destroyed.
A shell last month hit the house of Mohammad Saleem Sheikh, a soldier living in Chakra village near the LoC in Uri and another fell outside in the maze fields. Five families were living in the house and they fled from the village to safety. The house lies abandoned with clear signs of roof of the house being hit by a shell causing over a metre deep hole in the lawn.
Another shell missed the house of Fayaz Ahmad Abbasi, a retired soldier and Sarpanch of an adjacent village Isham and fell in the paddy fields. The family had a narrow escape. Abbasi pointed to the Pakistani post on top of the mountain on the other side of river Jhelum from where the shell was fired.
“We are in the firing line. 1802 people live in the village and in case of shelling the village is unsafe. I am constructing a concrete bunker on my own. It has cost me Rs 1.5 lakh so far but everyone can’t afford. We demand individual and community bunkers for safety of people”, said Abassi.
Some of the villages in Uri that are in the firing line are Dulanja, Batar, Mariyan, Kamalkote, Shadra, Uroosa, Gwalta, Chakra, Isham, Mothal, Silikote, Hathlanaga, Balkote, Tilawari, Chotali, Sumawali, Maidanan, Gagarhill, Tilawari, Churanda and Banali.
Over one lakh people living in Tweetwal, Tanghdar, Keran in Kupwara district and Gurez area of Bandipora district are in the firing line. Prior to 2003 ceasefire scores of people were killed in these areas and hundreds were injured but for last 15 years these villagers were living a peaceful life.
The worst affected villages in Tangdhar are Bakhaian, Nar, Lountha, Shatpalla, Kandi, Batpora, Suliaman, Gumbal, Bagh Baila, Haji Nar, Gabra, Tad, Hajitra; in Teetwal areTeetwal, Dringla, Gunde Shat, Gunde Gujran, Gunde Syedan, Drager, Chitarkote, Chamkote, Baderkote, Cheepkote, Murchela, Reyala and in Keran are Mandiyan, Patru, Kalas, Nagaan, keran Bala and Keran Payeen.
In 1998 Government sanctioned both community and individual bunkers for the people. Some of these were constructed but in 2005 earthquake majority of these bunkers were destroyed. After 2003 ceasefire, people didn’t feel need for these safety bunkers. Large numbers of houses, Government schools, colleges and other buildings were built in the shelling prone areas making people more vulnerable.