Uri villagers demand land away from LoC to shift home and hearth

Uri villagers demand land away from LoC to shift home and hearth
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SDM visits affected villages, says no decision yet on villagers’ return home

Baramulla: People living in several border villages in Uri area of Baramulla on Tuesday appealed to the government of Jammu and Kashmir to allot them at least 5 marlas of land near Uri town to safeguard their lives and property.
People from Churanda, Silikote, Tilawari, Thajal, Soura, Hathlanga, and Mothal villages, who were moved out to Uri town on Saturday because of intense firing at the Line of Control (LoC), said that they have been suffering for the past three decades the hostility between Indian and Pakistani armies. They said that scores of human lives and hundreds of domestic animals have been killed, while hundreds of people have become handicapped due to the cross-border firing. They said that villages that are shielded by mountains are safe but these seven villages close to the LoC are under the firing range and suffer losses each time there is escalation in hostilities.
“We are living within the firing range in an area where both armies are on top of hills and people live down below. Some villages are completely cut off by the border fences installed by the Indian army, which makes it very difficult to run to safer places whenever there is firing,” Abdul Rashid, a local, said.
Another resident of the area, Shabir Ahmad, said that people of these seven villages have held several protests in the past for a piece of land at some safer place. He said there is a lot of vacant government land available at Lagama, Uri, Salambad and other places. He appealed to the government to heed the people’s demand and save precious lives.
Laldin Ahmad, village head of Churanda, said that 8,000 people of seven villages were living in the danger zone. “In the past we have demanded bunkers, but after the recent shelling we have decided we cannot live like this anymore. The government should allot us at least 5 marlas of land at any place where we can survive.”
He further said, “We are very poor people and most of the villagers are dependent on their cattle. We can’t leave our cattle behind each time we are told to move to shelters. If the government gives us some land, we will build huts for our families and sheds for our cattle.”
Riyaz Ahmad, another villager, said, “It is true that there is no solution to Kashmir. The cross-border firing will continue for the next several decades. To reduce the death toll of innocent humans, the government should allot us land somewhere else.”
Meanwhile, a team of officials headed by Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Uri, D Sagar, visited the villages affected by cross-LoC firing in Uri on Tuesday morning. The team inspected several houses that were damaged completely or partially in last week’s firing and shelling. The administration has yet not taken any decision on the return home of hundreds of people who were moved out of villages and put in school and college buildings in Uri town last week.
Talking to Kashmir Reader, Sagar said, “I personally visited the affected areas and took stock of the situation. We have not yet decided on when the people moved out from the affected villages can return home.”