October 2002 News

De-mining border villages could take six months

19 October 2002
The Daily Excelsior

WAGAH (AMRITSAR): Even as many a soldier look forward to the forthcoming festive season following the announcement of troops demobilisation on the Indo-Pak border, life on the densely-mined zero line would take five more months before normalcy is restored there. According to highly placed army sources, it would take another four to five months for the border inhabitants to return and resume their routine. Tillers who had deserted their houses and farms in the villages falling on the border following the laying of heavy mines by the troops to prevent enemy advancement, would have to wait, they said. It would be a daunting task to demine the area before civilians could be allowed, army explosives experts said estimating that the exercise could well take over four to five months before any mined area could be declared a danger free zone. The heavily mined villages include Rajoke, Mehndipur, Khemkaran, Bikhwind, Attari, Rajatal and Doake and Chimma Khur along the Indo Pak border. Residents of village Narli Rajoke, Mehndipur, Khemkaran, Bikhiwind, Atatri, Rajatal and Doake and Chimma Khurd told PTI that the situation might get normal at the border once demobilization sets in. ''But for us it would take an unpredictable period to be back on the rails. Fear of untraced minefields would continue to haunt us for long'', one villager said. Ot is also feared that the tillers might not be able to resume farming even after six months. A senior army official, on condition of anonymity, said there was no surety that all the minefields have been completely neutralized. ''Stray rats in the fields have dislocated dozens of mines making them untraceable'', he added. These mines, according to experts, would continue to take their toll for quite some time. Citing the example of Afghanistan, army officials pointed out that the Russian army heavily mined it. ''These mines are still claiming human lives there when somebody inadvertently steps over them'', they said.


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