Ballot our reply to Pakistani bullets: residents of border hamlets

Samba: Shattered and forced to leave their homes due to repeated ceasefire violations from across the LoC, residents of villages in the border district who came out in large numbers to cast their votes today said they have answered the Pakistani bullets with their ballots.

"The ballot is our reply to the Pakistani bullet," Pawan Kumar, a resident of Ramgarh village of Samba district, said. The voters here who came out in large numbers to vote in today's fourth phase of the ongoing Assembly election said that their vote was an answer to Pakistan.

 Ballot our reply to Pakistani bullets: residents of border hamlets

Women voters show their voter ID cards as they stand in queue to cast their votes during the 4th Phase of J&K Assembly Election at a polling station in Vijaypur in Jammu on Sunday. PTI

"We came out in large numbers to vote and send Pakistan a message that we are not scared of their bullets," Rajkumar, another resident of Ramgarh village, said.

The two Assembly seats of Samba district where polling was held today recorded a poll percentage of 79.16 percentages with Samba at 77 percent and Vijaypur at 81.31 percent.

The residents of hundred of villages along the International Border on the Indian side are forced to leave their homes and cattle every time the Pakistani side resorts to ceasefire violation and fires on the Indian side.

"We suffer whenever there is ceasefire violation from across the border. We are forced to leave our house and cattle behind to take shelter at the camps set by the authorities," Mangat Ram, a local resident, said.

"In the past three months, my family had to leave the village several times. We don't know when a bullet or a mortar bomb being fired by the Pakistani side might just kill us. So whenever there is a ceasefire violation from across the border, we leave everything behind," he said.

Claiming that they had become "sitting ducks on fire" due to repeated ceasefire violations, the border residents accused
successive governments of ignoring their plight and hoped that the next government will not only ensure development but also
provide safety and security to them.

"We have decided to elect a representative who will help in providing us safety and security," Prem Singh, a local resident, said.

The residents claim that despite assurances, their demand for a small plot at a safe location has not been fulfilled.

"Every time there is election, politicians come to us and exploit our miseries. For several years, we have been demanding a plot of five marlahs at a safer location where we can build our houses but our demands remain unfulfilled," Kulwinder Singh, a resident of the Ramgarh village, said.

"The condition of the roads here is so pathetic that it takes hours for us to reach the main road, the situation is
worst when it comes to a contingency situation," he said.

Prem Singh said in the past, several residents who were critically injured in Pakistani firing and shelling lost their lives as it took several hours for them to be transported to the nearby hospitals in Jammu.

"The roads are considered a lifeline in other parts of the country, but for the residents of the border villages these roads are death traps," he said.

Samba resident Sham Sharma said, "We are now fed up of hollow promises. Nothing on the ground has changed. Our vote is for change for our safety. Our vote is for development of the border area".

PTI

Updated Date: Dec 14, 2014 21:00:27 IST