Ground report: Poonch residents fear war after Pak violates ceasefire
The killing of five soldiers in Chakanbagh has been seen as yet another sign of the continuous tension between India and Pakistan, but its impact on the people, who had enjoyed the benefits of an unwritten ceasefire between the two nations, can be seen the most.
Poonch: The tragic killing of five Indian army soldiers won’t only affect their immediate families, but will also have an impact on the thousands of residents who live in the border area along the line of control in Poonch sector.
A sudden silence has over taken the Khari village in Poonch, Western Jammu, after the killing of five soldiers in an early morning ambush by heavily armed men from across the line of control on Tuesday.
The incident happened between Cheeta and Begum post, almost three kilometers north of Chakandabad, a famous LoC trade point between India and Pakistan.
The Army spokesperson in Udhampur, Colonel Kalia, told Firstpost that twenty heavily armed men along with a few men in Pakistani uniform had ambushed a patrol party of the 21 Bihar regiment, in which one non commissioned officer and four jawans were killed at around 2 am early in the morning. One of the injured soldiers was airlifted to Jammu for specialized treatment.
Colonel Kalia also said that the ambush might have been laid so that militants could infiltrate from the other side.
The villagers living along the line of control, are now apprehensive about what the future holds.
Peer Zahir Ahmad, 55, a resident of Khari village told Firstpost that before the ceasefire they had to keep migrating because of the continuous shelling along the LoC, and were tired of living nomadic, unsettled lives.
“With the ceasefire between the two nations in 2003 things had improved, we had even destroyed the mud houses which were primarily build due to frequent firing. We have constructed concrete houses now. But after today's incident no one knows what will happen. The future is uncertain", he said.
Another resident, Abudul Hamid Malik ,43, says he is even afraid of sending his children to school as it is exposed to shelling. “After the tension erupted again on LoC, I stopped my children from going to school because I don’t know when a shell could land up their and kill them. If the shell lands here in my home at least I will die with my family", he said.
Imran Ahamd lives in a small hamlet near Chakanbagh and says that after the 2003 ceasefire, the villagers alongside the line of control had lived in peace, as there were no firing incidents. “After the death of two soldiers in the Mendhar sector this year, we were very afraid that any thing could happen at any time. And now we might have to migrate once again to other parts of Jammu,” he told Firstpost.
The killing of five soldiers in Chakanbagh has been seen as yet another sign of the continuous tension between India and Pakistan, and could well be a step back in the relations between the two sides. But its impact on the people, who had enjoyed the benefits of an unwritten ceasefire agreement between the two nations, can be seen the most.
Syed Mulak Ali, a migrant from Mendhar where a soldier was mutilated in January, says a lot of people who had fled the area during fighting, had returned in 2003 after de-mining operations were completed by the army in Samba, Ramgargh, R S Pora and Kaluchak. But in Poonch, where the entire forward areas running parallel to the LOC are heavily mined, they remained refugees for ever.
“But despite that we went back to village and started living again. We were already apprehensive and scared about the developments talking place and the ceasefire violations by Pakistan and now our fears have come true", he said.
Army Chief General Bikram Singh is expected to arrive in the valley soon, where he will hold discussions withChief Minister Omar Abdullah and Governor NN Vohra, senior Army sources said.
“Patrolling and security have been heightened along the border with Pakistan after today’s attack,” a senior Army officer said, adding that troops have been asked to be on high alert in view of the apprehension of more such attacks along the LoC.
Col Kalia told Firstpost that the ambush may have come as retaliation against the “effective counter infiltration grid on LoC, which has ensured 17 infiltration bids foiled this year resulting in killing of a total of 13 hardcore Pakistan trained militants.
“The numbers of such attempts have doubled this year in comparison to the corresponding period of 2012. Pak Army’s desperation is also evident in the substantial increase in the number of Cease Fire Violations this year. There have been 57 Cease Fire Violations this year which is almost 80% more than the violations last year,” he said.
Tanveer khan a resident of Sona Gali, where Pakistani troops killed the two Indian soldiers says his worst night mare had come true. “We have to now restrict our movement and, who knows, may be migrate from this place. It seems this place will never be at peace.” He says.
The villagers here say that they were only able to return to normal life in 2003, but said that after this incident, they were afraid that the peace that they had only just come to know had ended.
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