June 2000 News

About 250 Poonch villagers migrate to Pakistan

26 June 2000
The Pioneer

Jammu: At least 250 villagers belonging to the border district of Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir have migrated to Pakistan. According to police sources, the migration took place on June 24th night. It is said that members of at least 30 families including women and children have left India. Local sources alleged that the villagers were being harassed for sometime by both the militants and the security forces. The militants would ask for shelter on gun point while the security forces would harass them for doing so. The police sources, however, said that there was an announcement from a mosque in Palni from Pakistan side asking the people of the village to migrate to Pakistan by 24th afternoon. And by June 25th morning almost the entire village was empty. The police confirmed the shift of population on Monday morning. The Major General General Staff (MGGS) of the Northern Army Command at Udhampur, Maj. Gen. P P S Bindra said that Tarkundi was one of those few villages where the Army had recommended the State Government to relocate civilian population. The recommendation was made because the villages are ahead of the last Army post on the LoC. Referring to Tarkundi village the MGGS said, ''This is one such village which is spread over both the sides of LoC''. Gen Bindra said that Pakistan''s ISI had engineered these migrations because they were falling short of guides who could help them in infiltration of militants. He said that the migrations could have made possible by making monetary allurements or job offers. The local men in these mountainous frontier districts were, of late, reluctant to get recruited as guides for ISI leaving behind their families and children. Gen. Bindra claims: ''This is why this time they (ISI) had lured the whole families to migrate. The villagers from the adjoining villages have reportedly told the official now on the spot that security agencies were rounding up and questioning villagers for giving shelter to militants and helping them to infiltrate into Indian side. They said that after being frustrated with the harassment of Army they decided to migrate to Pakistan side. But the officials vehemently refute the allegation saying that the locals were fed up with the militancy and they are coming to security forces with vital informations about the militants. The police sources described this as a serious development. The Army and police officials have rushed to the area to prevent further migrations. Troops have been put on high alert to prevent any more attempts of exodus of villagers. Earlier a family or two would migrate from frontier districts of Poonch and Rajouri to Pakistan side and there were cases of return migration as well. But so far, this is the largest migration from Indian side to Pakistan. Meanwhile, police said that a group of about 30 Kashmiri youth crossed to Pakistan side from this area led by a Pakistani guide early Sunday morning. This was disclosed by a Kashmiri boy, Aashiq Hussain of Ganderbal in Kashmir , who got separated from the group and later surrendered before the local police. He said that boys were forced to undergo arms training in Pakistan.


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