KATHUA: Farming activity on the zero line along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district resumed after a gap of 18 years with the joint efforts of the Border Security Force (BSF) and the civil administration.
Over 8,000 acres of land across the fencing, spread across 22 border villages from Paharpur to Londi in Hiranagar sector, is lying unattended by border residents due to the frequent ceasefire violations by Pakistan.
The natural growth of wild grass and bushes helped Pakistan to push infiltrators and dig underground tunnels, posing a major security challenge.
"On the direction of Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, the civil administration took the initiative with the active support of BSF to start ploughing of the fields for cultivation of crops," Kathua district development commissioner O P Bhagat said.
The farmers of the neighbouring country are cultivating up to zero line on their side but the farmers on this side stopped cultivation of the land due to firing from the Pakistani side, thus incurred huge losses over the years.
"In the first phase, 1,200 kanals (150 acres) of land will be cultivated. The process will continue till the entire 8,000 acres of land was brought under the cultivation," Bhagat said.
The BSF pressed four bulletproof tractors into service and started ploughing to clear the land of the wild bushes and grass to make the land cultivable for the wheat crop.
"We are guarding the IB round-the-clock and will take every step to ensure the safety of our farmers. If Pakistani farmers are cultivating their field on the zero line why not our farmers do the same," BSF commandant Satyendra Giri said.
Giri, who along with Bhagat, jointly supervised 'mission ploughing' on the zero line, said the BSF is ready to provide all sort of help to the farmers in carrying out the cultivation.