SRINAGAR: For the first time since 2002, farming activity on the Zero Line along the International Border (IB) at Kathua district in Jammu and Kashmir was allowed by the government. Deputy Commissioner Kathua O P Bhagat told this newspaper that out of the 6,000 kanals of land at the Zero Line along IB, the administration with the support of BSF has allowed farming on 1200 kanals of land in the first phase.
The farmers were provided tractors with Bullet Proof (BP)-shields keeping in mind ceasefire violations.
Farming is actively taking place under the watchful eyes of the BSF jawans, who have set up bunkers in the area to ensure safety of civilians in case of cross-border firing and shelling. “The farmers from the other side have been doing farming at the Zero Line from last many years and we too decided to allow farmers to cultivate these lands,” Bhagat said.
Cross-border firing and shelling mostly takes place during the night and not during the day, he added. “I have been posted as DC in Kathua from last 11 months and most ceasefire violations took place in the night and very less during the day.” The Kathua DC said farming in other areas at the Zero Line would follow in phases.
Allowing farming at the Zero Line in IB was a long pending of farmers, who areupbeat over finally getting the nod to cultivate their lands. “We had been demanding that we be allowed to cultivate our land at zero line from last so many years,” said Ashok Sharma, a farmer. “The cultivation at the zero line will increase crop production and income of farmers and at the same time give clear view to the BSF men as well.”