JAMMU, May 30: The border dwellers in Jammu region, both on the International Border (IB) as well as Line of Control (LoC) were jubilant over yesterday’s decision of Indo-Pak DGMOs to stick to 2003 ceasefire agreement hoping that it will lead to restoration of peace on the borders and they would be able to live normal life again after ceasefire violations by Pakistan.
The optimism, though, is tinged with wariness as promises of peace have often not lasted.
The border residents are again returning to their homes after getting displaced due to intense Pakistani shelling for nine days from the middle of this month in Arnia, RS Pura, Ramgarh, Samba and Hiranagar sectors, where two BSF jawans and 10 civilians were killed in Pakistan shelling and firing.
“We welcome any initiative aimed at ensuring peace along the borders. People are leaving the relief camps and returning to their homes after the DGMOs of the two countries agreed to maintain the ceasefire,” Yashpal, Sarpanch of Deba village of Abdullian sector, said.
Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) of India and Pakistan yesterday agreed to “fully implement” the ceasefire pact of 2003 in “letter and spirit” and to stop cross border firings.
Yashpal, however, said that this was not for the first time that India and Pakistan are speaking to honour the 2003 ceasefire agreement.
“Pakistan has always violated the agreement and we do not have any faith in it,” the village head said.
Some people of the village who were reluctant to go back to their homes and were still housed at the relief camps, returned last night after getting information about the DGMOs telephonic talk and the decision to maintain ceasefire along the borders, he said.
Sarpanch of Chandu Chak village, Bachan Lal, said this was the second time this year the people of the border villages were forced to flee their homes.
“The first migration took place in January itself and we returned after DGMOs of the two countries spoke to each other and it was followed by flag meetings between the security forces on the either side. However, after a lull of several months, we were again in the relief camps,” he said.
It has become a routine to migrate to safer places three to four times a year, rued Lal.
“We want a permanent solution to this problem. We pray that the two countries uphold the agreement in true spirit,” he added.
Referring to the recent Pakistani shelling, Lal said three of those killed were natives of his Panchayat area.
“What was their fault? They were in their homes. At least 25 mortar shells hit houses in my area,” he said.
There is nothing more precious than peace, Lal said. “Poor people from both sides are suffering. Meager compensation of Rs one lakh and a job or five lakhs for human life and Rs 30,000 for an animal is all that is given. Motor companies are not entertaining the claims for damage to vehicles and the Government also does not cover the damage of the vehicles under any scheme,” he said.
Lal said he raised these issues with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on one of her recent visits.
The village head said the border residents have faced Pakistani shelling for the past over two decades. “Besides the risk to our lives, the education of our children is getting affected along with farming and other business activities,” he said.
Pawan Singh of Suchetgarh said nobody can imagine the plight of border residents during the times of ceasefire violations. “Over the past several years, the situation had worsened,” he said supporting the peace initiatives between the two countries.
Veena, 28, who works as a saleswoman at a cosmetic shop here to help her family of five comprising parents, a sister and a brother, said they returned to their house yesterday after spending nearly a week in the relief camp at the ITI campus.
“We have a ‘kutcha’ house and have no option but to run for the safety during Pakistan shelling,” she said pleading for permanent peace along the border. She demanded early construction of underground bunkers for each family and a scheme to transform their ‘kutcha’ houses into ‘pucca houses’.