Srinagar: As the news of air strikes by Indian Air Force (IAF) across the Line of Control (LoC) poured in, 25-year old Majid Khattana of Balakote area of Poonch got worried. He has seen artillery shells land in the area before, and he knows that if the situation between India and Pakistan deteriorates further, the border residents would have to bear the brunt.
In March 2018, five people in Balakote village were killed after artillery shells landed in the area. The civilian casualties had occurred in the forward village of Devta Dhar when a shell landed in a house. Now, when the IAF aircrafts struck across the LoC, Majid’s worry became acute as the villagers don’t have underground bunkers to stay in.
"In times of escalation of tensions between the two countries, we are the first to bear the brunt. The shells land in the area and people face a dire time," he said, urging India and Pakistan to observe restraint.
“War is not a solution. Dialogue is. There is a need that India and Pakistan resolve their issues so that we don’t have to face problems," he said.
Along the border areas in Jammu region, the residents have been witness to heavy cross-border artillery shelling for the last few days. The shelling continued in some areas even today.
Riyaz Ahmad, 45, another resident of Balakote, says border residents may have to face a tough time if "situation between India and Pakistan deteriorates".
“We don’t have bunkers here. We are not sure what turn the situation will take,” he said.
Residents of Balakote claim that they heard the sound of fighter jets flying by during the night, but added that they didn't witness any “unusual” movement of troops along the Line of Control (LoC).
In Kashmir too, residents were in a state of panic for the last few days after authorities issued a string of directives asking the staff to maintain a stock of medicines as well as distribute food grains to the people on Sunday.
Shafiq Mir, sarpanch of Poshana area of Poonch, said that the areas of Rajouri and Poonch have faced "difficult time" due to border shelling and in earlier wars between India and Pakistan.
Late last night, informs Mir, there was "movement of aircraft" next to the defence airstrip in Rajouri, where he lives.
"I thought it was usual activity. It was in the morning that I came to know about the airstrikes. We heard the sound of aircraft for a long time at around 3.50 am,” he said, adding that the areas which are close to the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch have in the past faced damages due to shelling from Pakistan.
"Earlier, a hospital in Poonch was targeted. The people living in areas which are near the border as well as the LoC face a tough situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, authorities have asked the people to remain "calm and not to pay any heed to the rumours".
BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary, has urged people to remain “calm and not to believe rumours circulating on WhatsApp or other social media". He said that Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik also made a similar appeal on Sunday.
“It is necessary that people remain stress-free and go about their normal activities. In case there is anything to be communicated regarding people's safety and security, the government will do so directly, through media,” he said, in a statement.
Subrahmanyam also said that the divisional commissioners, as well as the deputy commissioners, will "communicate" as and "when needed".
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Updated Date: Feb 26, 2019 20:33:38 IST