Avtar Bhat / Amit Katoch
Arnia/Hiranagar, May 22: It’s the sixth day of holy month of Ramzan and there is no let up in the ceasefire violations being made by the blood thirsty Pakistani Rangers.
Excelsior News team, which visited several border villages, found very intense shelling going on ,people crying and running for the safety.
“This is for the first time in my life I have seen such a high intensity of firing and shelling during broad day light. Shelling along the border is going on from yesterday night and still the guns are not falling silent. We are running for our lives and trying to hide ourselves from mortars raining from Pakistan. You will find deserted houses, fear and frustration among the villagers in Arnia. Many people were trapped in the shelling forcing them to stay inside for hours together,” said Ramesh Kumar, a resident of village Arnia during interaction with Excelsior News.
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From the past few days shelling has become a common affair along the IB as anyone can see that things have turned ugly from the day Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti appealed for unilateral ceasefire and the Centre agreed to her demand.
“We are being targeted by Pakistan and our civil administration seems to be least concerned. Infact, we are the most unfortunate and dejected people who even in their homes cannot find the peace which everyone is supposed to get at home. We are trapped in these four walls with no option to escape. Threat to the lives of my young kids makes me cry as yesterday an infant lost his life in the shelling,”said Shanti Devi with tears rolling down her face.
A group of people hiding themselves in bunker criticized the Government for not providing them the adequate facilities required in bunker.
The present border situation has triggered panic and fear among residents of border villages.
“Politicans do come to us but only to get votes.They forget their promises of providing land at safer places for us.They again use to forget us when we get trapped in some kind of difficulty or problem which is not created by us but still we suffer and live with that pain.No one cares that the studies of our children are suffering and they are living under a constant threat of losing their life without any fault of their.It seems that we are a ground for both the countries where any one could come and play his game,”said Romesh Chander, a border dweller camping at a relief centre.
The unabated shelling from across the border coupled with lack of arrangements for proper shelter and medicare facilities is taking the toll of border people daily who curse and blame both Central and State Governments for their apathy.
Totally dejected and bemoaned, the border residents in Arnia area of R S Pura sector and border villages of Hiranagar sector said instead of daily shelling the Government should empty the entire border belt for 15 to 20 days and teach Pakistan a lesson.
What has added to the woes and miseries of the border people on IB, the Government both State as well as the Centre have failed to make proper arrangements for evacuating the people to safer places or construct the adequate number of bunkers along the border belt for sheltering the people during the time of sudden shelling by the troops of enemy country.
The border people pass sleepless nights for days together as the shelling from Pakistani troops continue, resulting into death and destruction to a great extent on this side. To provide a succor to these hapless people, the Government has failed to make any contingency plan and it seems that those in power both at State and Centre are least concerned for the apathy of these people who live under the fear of gun and shelling daily.
“Both the State and Central Governments have played a trick with us as they failed to respect their earlier commitment of allotting five marlas of land at safer places where we could take shelter during such eventualities”, said Bimla Devi of village Treva in Arnia area of R S Pura sector where the Pak shelling since May 18 has spelled a doom.
Braving the shelling from across the border, Bimla is alone living in her house and does not want to leave it when majority of villagers have deserted Treva since the Pak shelling created a lot of devastation there on May 18. She told Excelsior that she will not leave her home with which she has emotional attachment.
“The Government has taken us for a ride as it promised five marlas of land but failed to fulfill this commitment”. “This time we had lot of expectations with Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and thought that situation will change better for us but our hopes have totally dashed into ground. The people continue to die and our properties have been damaged by shelling but there is no one in Government who cares for us”, said Bimla.
“They cheated and deceived us on five marlas of land at safer places”, she said, adding “when Mehbooba Mufti was in opposition she made an announcement in this village that when her party comes into power they will definitely allot five marlas of land to people and now the Government is backtracking” .
Even the compensation sanctioned by Union Government for refugees is not being released by State Government which has also generated a resentment among the masses as maximum people along border are the refugees, she said.
“They take us to camps and put thousands of people in a school building where there is one toilet and it is not possible that over 1000 people take shelter at such a place”, she said. The Government has failed to construct bunkers also, she added.
“In camps our children fell ill due to unhygienic conditions prevailing there and the Government expects us to live like beggars in camps which we will not do,” said Avinash Choudhary, another border resident from Ramgarh sector.
He said the Government is so apathetic towards us that last time one person received splinters of mortar shell in village Kamoor and later died after battling for his life for days together in hospital but the family was denied compensation and job to his next kin.
The border people said that there are no proper facilities in the entire border belt from Poonch to Kathua. “There are no surgeons in hospitals at R S Pura, Bishnah, Vijaypur, Ramgarh and even in District Hospital Kathua where the injured people can be treated in emergencies,” said Rakesh Choudhary of village Treva.
Moreover, there are no bullet proof ambulances in which the injured could be shifted to hospitals, he said, adding the situation is so grave that last time a couple died in village Chandu Chak of R S Pura sector and they were shifted in a blanket as there was no ambulance available. More over, there is no blood bank in entire border belt which is needed during the emergencies, he added.
He said the compensation for damaged house is given as Rs 70,000 which is not sufficient as once a house is damaged in shelling it has to be reconstructed again needing a huge amount.
He said the bunkers being constructed at some places are far away from the village and it will be difficult to shift the people there in the event of shelling. The bunkers should be constructed in the vicinity of houses where the people can shift easily during shelling, he added.
Moreover people can’t leave their houses leaving animals, other property behind in the villages, said Ram Kumar of Arnia. Many people are dependent on animals as they feed their families by selling their milk. So it is not possible for the people to fly for safety and leave their animals alone in the villages, he added.
Same were the views of border people in Hiranagar sector where the people said that they can’t leave their houses after the interval of every one or two days along with small kids and animals.
Prabhu Dayal of village Pansar in Hiranagar sector whose house turned into ashes due to Pak shelling said that mortar hit his house at 9 am and had it been the night “we would have been dead. We were taking breakfast when shell hit our house.”
Criticizing the Government, Shamboo Nath of Manyari “village in Hiranagar Sector said had bunkers been constructed we would have shifted there.” He added that their village becomes often target as a BSF BoP is situated near the village. He said the Government should make entire border belt empty for a fortnight and teach Pakistan a lesson once and for all as it is better to die once instead of dying daily.
He said the crop has also been destroyed in shelling and at various places it has caught fire due to shelling.
Rajinder Kumar of village Londi in Hiranagar said that Pak targeted the village in evening by firing heavy mortar shells and notwithstanding the claims of the Government there was no transport facility available to shift the people to safer places, he added.
Border dwellers blame Centre, State for neglect
Avtar Bhat / Amit Katoch