People in Kargil long for Peace
21 July 2001
KARGIL: With bated breath, they were waiting for the outcome of the India- Pakistan summit. After all, these innocent people in Kargil suffered the most during the bloody battles on Tiger Hill, Tololing, Batalik, Matayen, Mushkoh Valley and Dras. When the talks failed, more than 115,000 people began praying for peace in the region, for they didn’t want the dark days of 1999 to return. But it seems that their prayers were not heard, fully. For, yesterday almost all Kargil residents were forced to stay indoors to avoid becoming targets of unprovoked heavy shelling from across the border – after a lull of almost two years. For most of them, the trauma had begun. Though the Kargil conflict brought them misery, people here don’t want revenge. They want the hostilities between India and Pakistan to end and pray for peace. “We were very hopeful about the summit and prayed for the return of peace and normalcy to trouble-torn Jammu & Kashmir,” said Mr Asghar Karbalai, vice chairman, Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust, a powerful Shia organisation in Kargil district. Haji Ghulam Mohammed Khudam, Kargil BJP chief, expressed similar sentiments on peace. He said Kargil could be peaceful only if there was peace in Kashmir. For, Kargil is entirely dependent on Kashmir. “Therefore, we’re praying for the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue which would bring us peace and stability.” Mr Sanaullah, numberdar of Mushkoh Valley (entrance to the now famous Tiger Hill), said the people of Dras and Kargil, who witnessed bloodshed on the hills, had hoped that when the two countries’ leaders talked face-to-face, they would resolve the issue but unfortunately it didn’t happen. “It seems that we have to suffer more,” he said. Dr Deen Mohammad, Kargil’s deputy commissioner, said the strong craving for peace among the people of Kargil was because during 1999 conflict they had to leave their homes and belongings and seek shelter in the Zanskar Valley, which they don’t want to do again. “These are the people who actually bore the brunt,” he said. Of the 18 villages in Dras block of Kargil district, 10 are close to the Line of Control. Thus people there live under the fear, of raining Pakistani or mujahideen shells. People living in border areas such as Kaksar, Matayan, Holial, Muradbagh, Mushkoh, Budgam, Tumail, Apathi, Harda and Poen in Kargil district have become more political conscious after the Kargil conflict. Hence, they listen keenly to any development on the Indo-Pak front and pray that the Kashmir problem, linked to their safety and security, be solved.