Baramulla: People living in villages in Uri area near the India-Pakistan Line of Control (LoC) have said that the unending gunfight and mortar shelling across the LoC have turned their lives into hell, with no protection provided to civilians against risks to life and property.
About 25,000 people living in the two sectors of Kamalkote and Hajipeer are the most affected by the cross-LoC shelling. Locals said that the government paid Rs 20,000 to some families before 2001 for the construction of bunkers but these were damaged in the 2005 earthquake. Since then, the families have been given nothing for their safety.
“Recently a local porter working with the army lost his life and several people including women were injured and dozens of houses damaged when Pakistani rangers fired mortars at the Indian posts. Not only do we become the victims of the Pakistani firing, but the Indian army also forces us to live in cages. They don’t allow us to visit nearby forests and sometimes not even to other villages,” said Sajad Ahmad Khan, a local resident.
Zafar Khan, another local, said, “After the 2005 earthquake (damaged houses), most of the people put up tin sheds for shelter. When cross-border firing happens, the people are not safe in them. They should have concrete or mud houses to save their families and livestock, but unfortunately the people living along the LoC are poor and they can’t afford such material. We appeal to the government to release some funds for the construction of safe underground bunkers.”
A senior administrative officer said that a proposal was forwarded to J&K government several years ago in which the need for more underground bunkers was mentioned. “I don’t know what they have done with it,” the officer said. “The Mehbooba government has good relations with the Indian government. If they forward the report to the central government, we hope they will help these people.”