Bilal Ahmad Dar
People living near the Line of Control (LoC) are also living in the line of fire. These dwellers are for the most part powerless, with little control over their life and surroundings, and are extremely vulnerable to both physical and psychological injury. While the whole world is grappling with the lethal coronavirus, Pakistani and Indian troops are grappling with each other in Keran Sector. People living in this part of Kupwara district feel themselves caught between Scylla and Charybdis. On the one hand they fear the deadly virus and on the other hand mortar shelling. At a time when people are advised to stay indoors and maintain social distance, people near the borders are running out for safe haven. Their lives are at stake because of the shelling that has been going on for the last many days.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on March 23 called for a global ceasefire to focus on the fight against the virus. He said, “I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives. Pull back from the hostilities. Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end airstrikes. This is crucial to help create corridors for life saving aid, open windows for diplomacy, and bring hope to places amongst the most vulnerable to Covid-19.” Most of the countries acted upon the advice of the UN Secretary General. Even the Saudi-led coalition declared a unilateral ceasefire in Yemen. But the India and Pakistan continue with their deadly war. In Keran sector alone, it has claimed the lives of five soldiers and three innocent civilians, one of them a little boy. The area has been witnessing heavy shelling from both sides. The helpless people are vulnerable to mortar shelling from both sides. Their condition has become miserable. People have become refugees in their own homeland. They are not able to work in their agricultural fields because of the continuous mortar shelling and thundering of machine guns. Innocent people are made the blandishments of bullets and mortar shells.
India and Pakistan are veterans in the blame game. They accuse each other of ceasefire violations but do nothing to come to an understanding. Both countries should think about the lives of the innocent people who are living on both sides of the LoC. The pandemic requires people to stay indoors. How can they stay indoors when there is heavy mortar shelling and roaring of guns all around them!
Instead of putting the lives of civilians in peril, both countries should take measures that can save the lives of their citizens. Bravery and sanity lies in saving lives not in imperilling them. Fighting during this pandemic connotes a kind of arrogance and insanity. The two countries should at least honour the call of the UN General Secretary for a ceasefire.
The writer is a Research Scholar at the Department of English, AMU. [email protected]