Terror victims take to ballots for safety, security from Pak bullets

Ajay Raina

Electorates line up to caste their vote at a polling station in Government Higher Secondary School, Arnia on Saturday.  -Excelsior/Rakesh
Electorates line up to caste their vote at a polling station in Government Higher Secondary School, Arnia on Saturday.
-Excelsior/Rakesh

ARNIA/RS PURA (IB), Dec 20: Reinstating faith that the ballot will surely save their lives from the Pakistani bullets, the border dwellers including those, who lost their kin and kith in cross border terror activities turned in large numbers to cast their votes in the fifth and final phase of Assembly election today.
Traumatized and forced to leave their homes and cattle every time the Pakistani side resorts to repeated ceasefire violations across IB, the residents of hundreds of villages in the border areas of Jammu district including Kathaar, Pindi Charka, Arnia, Pindi Camp, Kathaar Kothe, Sai, Abdullian, Bera, Jora Farm, Treva, Kake-De-Kothe, Chak Malal, Suchetgarh and RS Pura cast their vote for formation of a new Government which will ensure their security and bring peace along IB and Line of Control (LoC) in the militancy affected State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Claiming that they had become sitting ducks on fire due to repeated ceasefire violations, the border residents accused successive Governments of ignoring their plights and hoped that the next Government will not only ensure development but also provide safety and security to them.
The residents said that recent fidayeen attack in Kathaar Kothe might leave some perceptible marks on the minds of few border dwellers living along IB and LoC in Indian side, but can’t deter others from giving a befitting reply to Pakistan by exercising their democratic right. Our mass participation in the Assembly election will clearly serve a message to Pakistan, that border people cannot be intimidated.
People said that villages on the IB have been turned into ghost town as they have to face firing, shelling and recent fidayeen attack, which sometimes result into loss of lives and injuries to them, adding that they cast their vote in this Assembly election with a hope that the new Government in Jammu and Kashmir will provide fool-proof security vis-à-vis lands at safer places.
Makka Ram, a resident of Arnia, who lost his son few months back in the cross border terrorism in Arnia sector, said “In the cross border terrorism few months back, I lost my son and around six members of my family got injured, when a mortar shell from Pakistan side exploded in my house. Despite that I exercised my franchise so that I can save the future of my other family members from this cross border terror activities, which are being carried out by militants at the behest of Pakistan”, he stated with tears in his eyes.
“We have decided to elect a representative who will help in providing us safety and security”, he said this while interacting with the EXCELSIOR outside a polling booth in Arnia town.
A resident of Arnia town and medical practitioner Tilak Raj Badyal during interaction outside polling booth set up at Government Higher Secondary School, Arnia said “We suffer whenever there is ceasefire violation from across the border. We are forced to leave our house and cattle behind to take shelter at the camps set by the authorities. We came out in large numbers to vote in the Assembly election today to send Pakistan a message that we are not scared of their bullets”, he added.
Brother of a class 8th student Mukesh Kumar, son of Jarra Singh, resident of Arnia said “My brother received bullet injury in the ceasefire violation in the month of August this year. I cast my vote but with a hope that the new Government will safeguard the lives of the border dwellers”.
“We don’t have any fear and this development will come into the notice of Pakistan with the heavy turnout in the Assembly election today by border residents”, he added.
The recent fidayeen attack in Kathaar Kothe area in which 3 army men and 5 civilians lost their life may have left an impression on the border residents that Pakistan can again try to stab them in the back anytime by indulging in these kinds of terror activities and to give befitting reply to Pakistani bullets, we turned for polling in huge numbers, said Vicky, a first time voter from Kathaar Kothe.
“Since August this year, my family had to leave the village several times. We don’t know when a bullet or a mortar bomb being fired by the Pakistani side might kill us. So whenever there is a ceasefire violation from across the border, we leave everything behind. But this time, we responded to Pakistani bullets by ballots”, said Rinku, a resident of Kaku-De-Kothe and a barber by profession.
Displaced various times by cross border firing, the border residents of villages Abdullian, Bera, Jora Farm and Treva said that they voted for change of guard this time. They feel that the new Government will address their problems on priority, which the successive Governments in the past failed to do.

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