LoC Residents Plunged Into Despair Again

4 August 2008
Kashmir Observer

Srinagar: The breaking of the truce by renewed exchanges of fire between Indian and Pakistani troops across the Line of Control has sent a fresh wave of concern and disquiet through people living on the frontier, reviving their sense of insecurity. The traditionally volatile Line of Control diving Kashmir has flared up again after a lull of five years, and troops on both sides are making liberal use of heavy weaponry and mortar shelling. A ceasefire between India and Pakistan, bringing much-wanted peace and relief to frontier residents, was broken at least four times by exchanges of fire by the two sides over the past month. A fifty-one-year-old farmer, Ghulam Qadir Chalkoo, who lives close to the LoC in Silikot, Kupwara, said that that the heavy firing across the dividing line had once again plunged the areas into fear and disquiet. “The ceasefire had brought peace, but now it has been shattered and we have again been thrown into perilous times,” he said. “The meeting between the prime ministers of India and Pakistan has raised out hopes, but firing from across takes place intermittently which has added to out insecurity,” the farmer said. Kausar Ahmad, a government teacher in Uri said that people had started returning to their homes and hearths after the truce of 2003, as many had been forced to flee due to the persistent trouble on the Line of Control prior to the ceasefire. “After 2003, we had been living in peace in our homes, and leading normal lives, but today we live in the constant shadow of fear because of the cross-LoC firing and mortar shelling from Pakistan. “Before the LoC truce, many civilian lives had been lost because of the firing, and now it appears that we are going back to the gory days of the old,” he said. Nazia Ali, a 23-year-old student in the frontier areas said that she was praying for the firing and shelling on the Line of Control to stop for good. “The firing brings death and destruction. We cannot till our lands. Our cattle get killed. Everything is held hostage to bullets and shells. We pray that this practice stops for ever,” she said. Frontier residents, who had begun to taste normalcy for the first time in decades, are pinning their hopes on the sagacity of the Indian and Pakistani leaderships and their peace talks to deliver them out of a lethal situation.