Living a life of desperation owing to the continues rattle of guns along the Line of Control (LoC), the border residents on Tuesday demanded setting up of bunkers at their residences near the Line of Control (LoC).
Interacting with the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who reached out to them over 5,000 people living in 23 hamlets along the LoC said that they have been forced to migrate from their homes as the LoC continues to be rattled by the gunfire by the Indian and Pakistani troops.
Pertinently, around 5000 people have been forced to shun homes and hearths in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district following heavy firing and shelling four months ago.
Four civilians were killed and five others were injured while over 100 cattle perished and 40 houses damaged in firing and shelling by Pakistani troops in different sectors of Rajouri in the recent past.
“Our first and foremost demand is that government should set up individual bunkers in each of the border house, if we have to live again along the LoC. This is most and first demand of the LoC people,” a local resident said.
“If all the residents get individual bunkers at their homes, no one will leave the LoC hamlets no matter how worse Pakistan may shell us,” he said.
Nowshera MLA Ravinder Raina also supported their demand and said a chunk of land should be provided to the LoC dwellers to build safe places.
“I appreciate Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reaching out to the LoC migrants in Nowshera sector of Rajouri … The visit will on one hand boost the morale of security forces while the people living along the LoC will feel they have full-backing from the state and the central governments,” Raina said.
Forced to take shelter in camps in five schools in Nowshera sector, border dwellers are said to be reluctant to go back to their homes even after four months due to repeated shelling and firing.
The Union home minister, along with minister of state in the prime minister’s office Jitendra Singh and J-K deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh, today interacted with men, woman and children at the camp.
“Just wait for some more time, Pakistan will be forced to stop firing. Whether they stop firing today or tomorrow, they will have to stop firing and ceasefire violation,” Singh told the border dwellers.
“Whatever is possible, I will do it (to resolve problems of the border dwellers). You are facing unnecessary problems,” Singh said.
“I know that whether it is Indo-Pak border or any other border in the world, if their locals will not be living there, and if border belts would be vacant without habitation of people, you never known which foreigners will come and start its activities and encroach the borderlands. Nothing can be said with confidence about it,” he said.
“If there is any biggest strategic asset of India, it is the India citizens living on the borders of the country. If we get strategic successes, it is because of your contribution,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner, Rajouri Dr. Shahid Iqbal Choudhary in a statement said that the Home Minister reviewed the status of various issues and held detailed discussions with public representatives and senior officers.
He asked the officers from Central and State Government for comprehensive action plan about various issues and demand raised for welfare, settlement and safety of border residents.
Earlier, the DDC made a detailed presentation about problems faced by border residents, losses due to ceasefire violation including deaths, injuries, loss of private property and damage to schools and buildings. He also gave a brief resume about rescue and relief measures as well as facilities provided at camps.
The DC in his presentation briefed about the status of bunkers and further proposal submitted, demand for cash compensation, 1030 Kanal state land proposed for alternative shelters, demand for special recruitment drive and education package, need for improvement in power and roads infrastructure in border villages, inclusion of crop losses under Prime Minister Fasal Bhima Yojana, coverage of border migrants under SDRF norms and other proposals.
MP Jugal Kishore Sharma strongly pitched for construction of bunkers, cash compensation for crop losses and recruitment of border residents in central forces. MLA Ravinder Raina briefed the Home Minister for compensation to farmers located ahead of LoC fence, package for bunkers, improvement in BRO road network, infrastructure development and providing basic facilities to border residents. MLCs Surinder Choudhary and Vibodh Gupta also spoke on the occasion. The Home Minister accompanied by senior officers including IGP Jammu, DIG Rajouri Deepak Slathia and SSP Yougal Manhas interacted with the students rescued from various schools during border firing.
Rajnath Singh appreciated DC Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary and Divisional Commissioner Dr M K Bhandari for their meticulous and effective efforts for rescue, rehabilitation and relief measures.
He lauded the role of police and local administration for rescue of students stranded in schools. Later, making a special mention of district administration in his public address the Home Minister lauded the administration for exemplary efforts. The Minister appreciated SSP Rajouri and police force for timely measures for protection of locals.