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Border tale: Living on edge but won’t budge

Even though Pak attacks loom, some in frontier villages of Punjab & Kashmir say they will not leave their places

Published: 01st October 2016 02:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st October 2016 04:53 AM   |  A+A-

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A woman travels in a horse cart at Paloora village Jammu on Friday after authorities asked people to leave their border villages for safety reasons | PTI

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH, SRINAGAR  :  Amid escalating tensions between India and Pakistan, some people living on the frontier in Punjab are refusing to leave their homes till actual firing starts from across the border, just like their Kashmir counterparts who are keen on staying put and demanding more underground bunkers for their safety.
The villagers in Gurdaspur and Pathankot districts were terrified were expecting gunfire from across the border  but as the night passed peacefully some of them made up their minds not to leave their homes. One reason they give is that it’s the harvest time and their crop will be destroyed.
At their observation post in Thakur Pur village, BSF personnel tried to convince the villagers to leave. But nobody seems to be listening as residents were busy with their daily chores.
Drawing parallels with the 1971 war, ex-serviceman Jodh Singh said, “This time, in spite of the alert issued by the authorities, everything is under control. If the enemy wanted to attack us it would have done that yesterday ,” he said.
The villagers of neighbouring hamlets of Srirampur, Jainpur, Kana and Behrampur too have refused to move. But people in some villages have moved out. Also MLAs across party lines visited the villagers and tried to explain the situation and pacify them. In many villages people could be seen loading luggage and moving to other villages and also arranging for transportation on their own.
And in the Kashmir valley, fear gripped villagers in Uri. “It was a tense night for all of us. We were all alert as we apprehended that Pakistan may launch attacks,” 38-year-old Irshad Ahmad of Garkote, about 5 km from LoC, told Express on the phone.
On whether they had been asked by the administration to leave the place, he said, “Neither the Army nor the civil administration approached us in this regard so far. Even if they tell us to leave the place and move to safer places, we won’t migrate. We will live and die here.” Irshad said the villagers used to have underground bunkers where they used to take refuge during cross-border firing and shelling before the 2003 India-Pakistan border ceasefire.
“However, after the October 2005 tremor, everything was damaged. These bunkers were our security cover and now we are feeling helplese,” he said.
Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Silikote, told Express that most families there didn’t sleep in the night as they feared Pakistan retaliation. Bashir also said nobody had visited them to advise them to take precautionary measures, adding that even if they were told to leave their places, they wouldn’t do so.



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