Land disputes with Pak on rise as 35 border pillars go missing
27 August 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: Land dispute cases have increased on nearly 190 kms long international border with Pakistan in Jammu sector as about 35 border demarcation pillars have gone missing. With the missing of these pillars several areas have been declared disputed by the both Border Security Force authorities and the Pakistani Rangers manning the borders. Farmers on both the sides are the ultimate sufferers as security forces connected with the border management, have restrained them from performing agriculture activities in their respective fields. Riverine areas like Basantar, Bein Tarnah, Ujh and Chicken Neck belt of Akhnoor sector including Pargwal, Sangral etc are the worst hit where hundreds of kanals of land of the farmers has gone under disputed category where authorities of both the countries are projecting their claim. In the past, several skirmishes occurred with the border forces of both the countries over these land disputes. Sector Commander of Border Security Force (BSF) for Jammu, P K Mishra disclosed that this ticklish issue has remained lingering on for the last so many years in Jammu sector and it needed to be sorted out at higher level involving DGs of both the sides and other top Governments of India and Pakistan. In several disputed areas, Pakistan tried to conduct defence works despite objections from this side. Rangers created bunds and concrete bunkers in some of the disputed areas taking advantage of ceasefire. This is cause of concern and the matter during a few flag meetings at lower level was discussed between the BSF and Pak Rangers in the past, he maintained. Giving some more details, the DIG said that areas like Ballad in Samba sector on the bank of Basantar river, Pak Mumtaz Post, Leri Kallan, Mal Jodha, Mala Bela in Akhnoor were in the focus recently due to land dispute. He said most of the demarcation pillars are too old. Several pillars got washed away during flash floods in rivers and nullahs and went missing. This became the main reason behind land dispute along IB in this sector. Hardly two months back, Rangers constructed about 25 mt ring bund opposite Dhamala nallah near Border Pillar No 62, just 100 mts in Indian territory. In May this year Rangers constructed pucca bunkers at Lehari Kallan and Mumtaz post just 5 to 10 mts from IB which is also cause of concern besides raising 55 mt bund in disputed area of Dhamala nallah. Other areas of concern are -Harpal Post, Umrawali, Kajilial, Jarwal, Tarangot, Chak Changa, Bobiya border areas. It has been learnt that with the missing of three-four pillars 95, 104, 105 in Chak Changa area of Tarnah, hundreds of kanals of land of the villagers has remained in the control of Pak authorities for more than a decade now. Villagers raised this issue with the State authorities and also with the BSF Jammu frontier several times but nothing could be achieved. Mr Mishra said missing of demarcation pillars has led to inadvertent border crossing of civilians from both the sides. The people while working in the fields closer to IB, some times cross over to the either side by mistake and are caught. Several teen aged boys and elderly farmers were pushed back by BSF in past few years after holding flag meetings as good will gesture, who were earlier caught in the Indian territory. Other major disadvantage of this old dispute is non- performance of agriculture activity officially declared disputed territory and it debars farmers from producing crops thus affecting their economic condition. The distance between the two border pillars varies from place to place and at some places, they are erected at a distance of just 100 meters. 'We have asked Pak Rangers to demolish bunds and defence works created in disputed areas but no immediate positive response has been received. In Pindi area also, we have lodged strong protest with Rangers of erecting some bunds, 'he added. The re-demarcation is a ticklish job and is done by a joint survey team of both the countries. In the October-November Border Management Committee meeting of both the countries in Punjab, border demarcation issue is likely to be discussed in big way.