December 2003 News

Fencing cuts off villages in Kashmir

20 December 2003
The Hindu
Luv Puri

MENDHAR: Fateh Mohammad is a confused man today. The on-going fencing operations along the Line of Control has cut off his village in Mendhar sector from the rest of the State. But Mohammad is not alone. The fencing operations as a strategy against infiltration from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir were planned before the November 26 ceasefire based on the conditions prevailing then. Infiltration was routine in this sector. So were shelling and pitched battles with the infiltrating terrorists. Therefore in a tactical decision, fencing operations were started at some distance away from the LoC where no direct attack on the soldiers and labour employed for the task was possible. Those living in the forward areas along the LoC which face Pakistan- occupied Kashmir are in an unenviable situation. The fencing in the highly volatile Mendhar sector has cut off many villages. The Army has built gates at various points along the LoC through which the villagers can enter the mainland after showing their identity cards. But the arrangement is possible only so long as the peace on the LoC continues. Javed Rana, an MLA from the Mendhar Assembly segment, is upset that his constituency is prone to high risk. 'We cannot leave these people to the mercy of terrorists or the Pakistan forces,' he says. The situation in Mandi sector, another stretch prone to infiltration, is even more serious. The situation in the forward villages of Wazli, Kant, Chamber Kanali and Chaprain is no different. The entire Panchayat of Shahpur area has gone to the other side of the LoC. Senior administrative officers in the area have to find innovative solutions to the problems. The authorities claim that there is a plan for building a model colony for the residents of Balakote in the interior region. The Prime Minister announced a special package of Rs.7 crores recently for this sector.


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