Kupwara: Of hundreds of villages along the Line of Control (LoC), which remain dotted with military bunkers and garrisons in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, one was virtually independent till 1965 with no presence of either Indian or Pakistani army.
After the 1965 war between the two countries, Jabri village, a small hamlet in Tehsil Karnah, was divided into two parts – one occupied by Indian forces and the other under the control of Pakistan administration Kashmir.
According to the villagers, neither Indian authorities nor PaK administration owned the village till the two countries went to war and then divided it on Feb 25, 1965.
Till the date, the villagers said, they would easily cross into Indian as well as Pakistani side without any objection from any side.
They said when militancy began in Kashmir in 1990s and army increased its vigil on the village, some of the villagers moved to another side of border along with their families and cattle, where they are living now.
According to 2011 census, the total population of hamlet is 347, among them 178 are male and 169 are females living in 69 families. Villagers estimate a similar population on the other side as well.
A villager said that life in the hamlet was good till 1989 when militancy broke out in Kashmir valley. “The lives of people became hell. Some were killed in border firings while as some lost their lives in different militancy related incidents. Many died due to the underground mines laid by army,” he said.
He said almost all the villagers have their close relatives living on the other side. “We can’t go there and they can’t reach us. Some families who lived very close to LoC were forcibly pushed back by army, turning the distance of few meters between the two parts into a no man’s land,” he said.
The villagers said that their animals can’t graze in the nearby mountains because of underground mines and army presence.
Ghulam-u-Din, a villager, lamented the lack of basic amenities in the village. “We are yet to be connected with other parts of the Valley by a proper road. Neither we have a health care centre nor we have proper power supply in the village,” he said.
Men work as labourers in the village while as women folk often work at home besides tending to their cattle. Some of the families use horses for transportation.
Din said most of the people are living below poverty line.