SAMBA : Located about a kilometre from the Zero Line between India and Pakistan, this 320-year-old shrine in Samba sector of Jammu has always been the centre point of bonhomie between the two warring countries. This is the only place in the whole of Jammu and Kashmir where Pakistan’s Chenab Rangers offer a “chaddar’’ for the sacred dargah of Baba Chamliyal and the Indian forces hand over “shakkar’’ (holy soil from the dargah) and “Sharbat’’ (holy water) for the Pakistani populace.
Revered by people of all faiths on both sides of the border, Chamliyal was spared from firing or shelling from the Pakistani side — something even the Border Security Force (BSF) was hitherto confident of. But not anymore. Pakistan is now looking at opening new fronts to target Indian forces in the aftermath of the surgical strikes by the Indian Army across the Line of Control in September, now increasing tensions along the International Border (IB) in Chamliyal, hitherto considered a peaceful area due to the presence of the Baba Chamliyal shrine.
This is likely to cast a shadow on the world famous “mela’’ at the shrine, organised on a grand scale in June every year during which lakhs of lakhs of followers from all over India and Pakistan seek blessings and indulge in festivities — the only point of contact between the Pakistan’s Chenab rangers and BSF under normal circumstances.
Sources in BSF disclosed to Express that ever since the surgical strikes, Pakistan has been targeting Chamliyal by opening fire on two occasions, launched a mortar shell to target a BSF patrol vehicle. On Tuesday, Pakistan facilitated infiltration of three terrorists into India, who were challenged and then neutralised, but not before seven BSF men were injured in exchange of fire. What has raised many an eyebrow is the discovery of a small tunnel, used for infiltration by terrorists.
‘’In the last several decades, Pakistan desisted from targeting Chamliyal village. But now, they seem to be desperate and have begun to target even this area and even facilitate inflitration. Moreover, they have also dug up a tunnel. If tensions continues in Chamliyal, we may have to do a re-think about allowing Pakistan be part of the festivities.
They cannot offer chaddar on one hand and target us and sending terrorists on the other hand,’’ a senior official told Express. While Chamliyal has always remained peaceful, until now, Pakistan has often targeted all neighbouring villages across Samba sector all these years, especially after the surgical strikes by India. In June every year, a grand three-day “mela’’ is organised in the shrine during which Pakistan rangers exchange sweets with BSF personnel at the zero line.