Pak Rangers removing pillars to blur border, say J-K villagers
17 April 2001
The Indian Express
Suchetgarh: Pakistan rangers have reportedly removed pillars demarcating the boundary with India at various places along the International Border (IB) in Jammu region. The move, villagers said, is aimed at creating a dispute on the IB just like that of the Line of Control (LoC). Though senior BSF officials have been denying this, villagers said the removal of pillars from the border has led to tension with the Pakistan Rangers. Exchange of fire, which had stopped after Prime Minister Vajpayee announced a unilateral ceasefire, has been going on for the past fortnight in R.S. Pura. There was exchange of fire between the Rangers and BSF at S.H. Way and Jabbowal this week. No one was injured. BSF officials, however, attributed firing between the two sides on defence preparations on both sides of the border. ‘‘When we construct something on our side, they resort to firing,’’ a BSF official said. The villagers, however, said the defence preparations on both the sides started after removal of pillars by Pakistani Rangers. Over half a dozen pillars, which demarcated the border between the two countries, were removed by Pakistani Rangers from the IB in Suchetgarh village alone about a fortnight ago, they said. Pillars have reportedly been removed in adjoining border villages as well. Villagers claimed the BSF had objected to removal of pillars and construction of new bunkers, but the Rangers did not respond positively. Thereafter, BSF constructed new bunkers close to the IB. With new bunkers, as both sides moved closer, intermittent exchange of fire re-started. ‘‘They (Rangers) do not open fire on us (villagers). But, whenever they notice a BSF personnel moving near the border, they start firing,’’ said Haveli Ram, Lamberdar of Suchetgarh village. ‘‘Ever since the removal of pillars, the BSF has started regular patrolling along the IB in our village. Earlier, they used to visit only twice or thrice a week,’’ said Guran Ditta from the same village.