October 2016 News

Amid India-Pak Border Tension, Gurez Residents Ready Underground Bunkers

16 October 2016
Rising Kashmir
Mir Liyaqat Ali

Srinagar: Amid escalation in tension between India and Pakistan and fear of resumption of cross-border firing and shelling between troops of rival countries, the residents of Gurez are renovating and reconstructing the underground bunkers for their safety. 'There was no firing or shelling between Indian and Pakistani troops in Gurez sector since November 2003, when border ceasefire came into effect. However, after recent rise in tension between armies of the two nuclear armed countries, we don't want to take chances and are renovating and reconstructing the underground bunkers,' said residents of Dawar in Gurez. People living close to LoC were having underground bunkers, where they used to take refuge during firing and shelling between Indian and Pakistani troops. The concrete bunkers were dug up around 10 feet deep in the earth for safety of the villagers by the authorities. However, after November 2003 border ceasefire between Indian and Pakistani troops, these underground bunkers of border residents were lying defunct. But now people of 27 villages of Gurez sector are cleaning, renovating and reconstructing these bunkers to use them in case of resumption of cross-LoC firing or shelling. 'These bunkers were only safety for us before 2003 border ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan. We used to take refuge in these bunkers whenever there used to be cross-LoC firing or shelling,' said the Gurez residents. The residents of Dawar, Bempora, Khandiyal, Markote, Mastan and adjoining villages said they are renovating and repairing the bunkers. 'Almost every household in our village has underground bunker. These bunkers were lying defunct since 2003 but now people are cleaning and renovating these bunkers for their own safety purposes,' said Abdul Gaffar, a resident of Dawar. A senior official told Rising Kashmir that about 70 percent of underground bunkers in Gurez have been reconstructed by the villagers in last two weeks. He said people apprehend resumption of cross border shelling and firing and escalation in tension between India and Pakistan. The official said recently someone played mischief by bursting a fire cracker. 'It caused panic among people, who ran helter-skelter and some even took refuge in the underground bunkers, as they apprehended that a shell fired by Pakistani troops has landed in their village'. Gurez residents said underground bunkers is a better option for them then migrating from their villages to safer places. 'We can't leave our households and cattle behind and runway if tension between India and Pakistan further escalates. We will prefer to live in these bunkers than migrating from the village,' they said. India and Pakistani troops have now been exchanging frequent fire and mortar shelling along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir after army claimed to have conducted 'surgical strikes' in Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) in response to September 18 militant attack on army base in Uri in which 19 army men were killed.