Blazing LoC

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‘I pray that the hostility on the borders ends soon’. She also asked both the countries to shun hostility and not to turn J&K as battle ground and develop cordial relations between each other. She said the entire India is heading towards development while as J&K is moving in opposite direction.  Mehbooba Mufti also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as to Pakistan to not make the northern state a “jung a akhada” (a match ring for war) and to instead make Jammu and Kashmir a bridge for friendship.



Asem Mohiuddin

Once again the tension between India and Pakistan has reached at its peak especially on the Line of Control and on the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir. The guns that have gone into silence after India and Pakistan agreed on a ceasefire agreement have started blazing fire again and civilians and soldiers from both sides are losing lives every week. The Indian and Pakistani soldiers are not only targeting bunkers of each other but in the exchange of gun fire and mortar shelling the villagers living on the both sides of the LoC are becoming the causality and in past several months over a dozen of civilians and soldiers have lost their lives and hundreds injured. Apart from Poonch sector the intense firing took place in the civilian areas from R S Pura to Kanachak and Pargwal sectors that forced civilians living close to IB and LoC to migrate to safer places. The continuous shelling on Jammu and Kashmir borders and LoC has marred education, agriculture, economic activities and endangered the life of people who are fleeing from these areas.

The state government also ordered closure of schools falling within five kilometres distance from both the international border and Line of Control in Jammu region as a precautionary measure and the officials fear the students could become sitting ducks in case of escalation of tension. People at a number of villages falling on the zero line along international border in R S Pura, Arnia and Ramgarh sectors have shifted to the houses of their relative’s safer places and the government buildings. The four deaths took the toll for January to 10, almost equalling the number of deaths in entire 2017 in such cross-border firings.

The people living close to the LoC and International border say that they have never seen such a tension on the Loc and international border since 2003 when ceasefire was announced between India and Pakistan.  ‘’life has become hell in our villages. We are living under the fear of constant shelling and firing. We have seen death from close range,’’ said Ram Pal a resident of Arnia. He said the same is the case of people living on the other side of the border. ‘The politicians have failed us; even after five decades people are losing their lives how long will this confrontation go on.’

Such is the intensity of firing it seems the thaw between India and Pakistan has now come to end with both the sides not only using short range but also long range weapons. The fresh skirmishes began when Pakistan said that four of its soldiers were killed when Indian troops targeted a patrol that was busy in restoring communication lines. The Pakistan said that in retaliation three Indian soldiers were also killed.

The Indian Army said that seven Pakistani soldiers were killed in the cross LoC firing. Though DGMO’s of both India and Pakistani army are in touch with each other however tension on the LoC has escalated in the past few weeks. Now the ceasefire is being violated on daily basis and has been reduced on papers. When ceasefire was announced it not only brought smiles on the faces of villagers living on both sides of LoC and IB but the thaw in the Indo – Pakistan was visible, even after the ceasefire agreement the Srinagar – Muzuffarabad road opened after decades of hostility, however, now tension has again escalated especially in the past few years.

Last week saw number of incidents of ceasefire violation on rise. Not only, Indian Army claimed to have killed seven Pakistani soldiers, the army also said that a fidayeen squad of Jaish e Mohammad that had tried to enter into Uri by crossing the river Jhelum was killed.  The Army’s Uri brigade A S Ahluwat told the media persons that these fidayeen had plants to target army installation after sneaking into Uri and terming the killing of five militants a big success. The tension on the LoC and IB in J&K reached at its highest point after fidayeen militants attacked the army’s strategic brigade headquarters in Uri in September 2016 that left 19 soldiers dead.

Soon after the attack, army claimed to have conducted ‘surgical strikes’ in the Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PAK) on the militant hideouts and termed those strikes successful. However, Pakistan contested those claims. Since then LoC has witnessed surge in the ceasefire violations but on both the sides civilians and soldiers were killed. As the tensions surged both the sides were asked to exercise maximum restraint as it could lead a fresh spate of tension between two neighbors both possessing nuclear arsenal in their armoury. In past two years military and political leadership from both the sides have indulged in rhetoric and irresponsible statements that further escalated the tension.

Since 2003, ceasefire has been in place on the LoC, after the ceasefire between India and Pakistan, villagers living on the LoC had a sigh of relief, but from past few months, the ceasefire violations have become a regular affair on the LoC, especially in the Jammu region. The India had been blaming Pakistan for the ceasefire violations on the LoC and officials said that under the garb of firing on the Indian post, militants are pushed into the state. Pakistan, however, blames India for not respecting the sanctity of the cease fire on the LoC. Last year there have been more than 700 ceasefire violations on the LoC.

Reacting on the death and destruction on the LoC, J&K chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti said the people of J&K are the worst victims of the acrimony between the two neighboring countries.

‘I pray that the hostility on the borders ends soon’. She also asked both the countries to shun hostility and not to turn J&K as battle ground and develop cordial relations between each other. She said the entire India is heading towards development while as J&K is moving in opposite direction.  Mehbooba Mufti also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as to Pakistan to not make the northern state a “jung a akhada” (a match ring for war) and to instead make Jammu and Kashmir a bridge for friendship.

“Hamare border pe iss waqt, khuda na khasta, ek tarah se khoon ki Holi chal rahi hai. (On our border right now, a kind of bloodbath is taking place). Country is on path of development, it is what PM talks about, but the opposite is happening in our state. I appeal to PM and to Pakistan, J&K ko jung ka akhada mat banaiye, dosti ka pul banaiye (do not make J&K a match ring for war, make it a bridge for friendship),”

The issue of ceasefire violation was also raised by the opposition in the session of J&K Assembly with opposition members blaming the ruling coalition for failing to safeguard lives of the civilians and soldiers on the borders. The opposition legislators also mocked the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s statement about 56 inch chest. The opposition members asked the ruling PDP and the BJP legislators what happened to the promise of the Prime Minister.

The escalation of tension on the LoC and IB has left many people homeless and if the situation will further deteriorate then things could also go out of hand. Instead of fighting, both the nations should start and dialogue process and war is solution to no issue, even after wars both the countries sat on table. In fact senior separatist leaders in Kashmir have also asked the government of India to shun the hard-line attitude and start talking.

The separatist leadership could also play its role by trying to end the hostility between two countries. So far separatist leaders have also failed to show flexibility that is leading to the killings in Kashmir. On its part Centre should also shun the attitude of rigidness and try to open fresh rounds of talks  with Pakistan, otherwise both the countries will continue to lose  civilians and soldiers and peace will be elusive from the region which is bad for not only people of J&K but for the entire sub continent.

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