RS PURA: Living with the constant fear of Pakistani shelling, displaced border dwellers are scared of returning to their homes and are demanding early sanction of the "promised" piece of land in safer zones and construction of bunkers.
The demands were made by people putting up at three relief camps set up by the state government here for border dwellers who have been bearing the brunt of heavy Pakistani shelling.
12 persons, including five security personnel, have been killed and over 50 others injured in the unprovoked and indiscriminate firing by Pakistan in the five districts of Jammu, Kathua and Samba along the IB and LoC since Thursday last.
Last month, the Centre gave a sanction for construction of 14,460 underground bunkers at a cost of Rs 415.73 crore for safety of people living along the LoC and the IB in Jammu division.
The BJP had promised five marlas (1361.25 sq ft) of land for border villagers during the election campaigning in the state ahead of forming a government with the PDP in 2015.
However, last year, the government informed the state legislative assembly that it had decided to construct bunkers in border districts instead of allotting five marlas of land to each family as shifting of population to another place would not be in the interest of the state or nation.
“What we are getting is only hollow promises and unabated firing from Pakistan over the last four years. The government needs to act and provide us the promised five marlas of land away from the firing zone for our safety, ” Sudesh Kumari, a resident of Beghwara Choga, told PTI.
Kumari is among 150 border residents camping at the Indian Training Institute (ITI) complex in this sector after one of her relatives lost his life in the Pakistani shelling along the International Border in Bhera village on Saturday.
“Hamara Jeena Haraam Ho Gaya hai ” (Our life has become a hell), she said as nearly three dozen women gathered to condole the demise of her brother-in-law Ghar Singh in the Pakistani shelling second the view.
Singh was among six persons killed in R S Pura and Arnia sectors, while 32 others were injured.The dead included a BSF jawan.
Suneeta said, “We are living a life of uncertainty with no future. During firing, we are even unable to help our children to move to safety, ” she said, adding “the lurking threat of Pakistani shelling is taking a toll on our mental health. ” Making a passionate appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 75-year-old Krishna Devi from Abdullian said, “With folded hands, we want to say that we are not even safe in our homes as shells pierce the roof and walls and we should be helped on humanitarian grounds.” Her grandson Pankaj Kumar said they are afraid to go back to their homes.
“The firing was intense (over the past week) and we fear it might continue till Republic Day, ” he said. Kumari said they had a narrow escape while fleeing the village as a mortar shell missed them and landed on a tree.
“Had the shell not landed on the tree, it would have hit the vehicle we were travelling in from the village to the rehabilitation camp, ” she said. Kanta Devi, a resident of Kapurpur and putting up at government boys higher secondary school, said, “The truth is bitter – the government is not doing enough for our safety and security while the firing from across the border had increased manifold over the years ”.
“What we are going through, we pray nobody else should face such a situation, ” she said.
Kastoori Lal said many VVIPs including deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh and Relief and Rehabilitation minister Javaid Mustafa Mir visited the camp since Saturday and extended condolences to families who lost their dear ones in the Pakistani firing and assured all possible help.
“How long we will stay at the camps? We want government to fulfil our demand of allotment of land at safer places and early construction of bunkers, ” he said.
He said there is no alternative to peace.
"We want peaceful atmosphere to return by strictly implementing the 2003 ceasefire agreement between the two countries as innocent people are getting killed and displaced on either side. ” Health Minister Bali Bhagat said India has taken many initiatives to normalise relations with Pakistan but the neighbouring country needs to understand the futility of violence and reciprocate positively.
“Not only the people of Jammu and Kashmir but the entire country wants good neighbourly relations between India and Pakistan, ” he said.
However, he said it is unfortunate that the firing from across the border is going on, killing innocent persons and resulting in displacement of the people.
The government was doing its best to provide relief to border residents displaced by the Pakistani firing.
“We have already issued a high alert all along the 449 km stretch from Kathua to Poonch-Rajouri, comprising both IB and LoC.We have deployed 197 ambulances and identified 25 health institutions which are very close to villages affected by the firing, ” he said.
He said despite tasting defeat at the hands of India many times, Pakistan continues its mischief.
"I am of the opinion that the central government is going to take a strong measure in coming days...from former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we extended the hand of friendship keeping in mind the doctrine that friends can be changed but not neighbours.
"When we are getting shells from Pakistan, we are compelled to direct that if they fire one shell, respond it by 10 shells,” he said.
The minister said the world understands that India is a powerful country and its Army has the capability to cross the border and hit terrorist targets and return without the knowledge of their counterparts