Time is Running Out

A dialogue with the Kashmiri youth is essential to check the growing menace of terrorism

Fayaz Bukhari

The guns along the Line of Control (LC) in Kashmir have started roaring again after a gap of 15 years. The 2003 ceasefire agreement that gave reprieve to people living on both the sides of dividing line is almost over.

Paramilitary soldiers arrive near an encounter site in Karan Nagar where two militants had opened fire

This deadly war of attrition between India and Pakistan along the 778 kilometres long LC and 198 kilometres International Border (IB) in the state has taken a sharp turn since the ‘surgical strike’ of 2016. Only this year, over three dozen people including civilians were killed and hundreds injured on both sides of LC.

As per the official data, there were as many as 860 ceasefire violations along the LC and another 120 along the IB in 2017, the highest ever such tally in over 15 years. The number of CFVs has already crossed 300 across the LC in the first 50 days of this year. The number of ceasefire violations in 2015 was 387 and in 2016 271.

And on the other side, Pakistan blames Indian troops for the violations. “In 2018, the Indian forces carried out more than 400 ceasefire violations along the LC and the Working Boundary, resulting in the killing of 17 innocent civilians and injuries to 68 others. This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India is continuing from 2017 when the Indian forces committed more than 1970 ceasefire violations”, said Pakistani government statement.

Given the current mood, these long and bloody tit-for-tat fire assaults across the border, with light artillery guns, heavy mortars and anti-tank guided missiles and artillery are not going to ebb anytime soon.

However, the General Officer Commanding 15 Corps, Lt Gen A.K. Bhat said that the army only retaliates in response to Pakistani firing. “Only once the weapons with heavy calibre were used but it depends upon the situation. Otherwise we didn’t plan to use heavy calibre weapons. We would retaliate the way Pakistan attacked us,” he added.

It’s the people living along the LC and IB who are the worst sufferers of this hostility. People flee to safety as soon as guns start firing. As the frequent shelling leads to migration of people living near the zero line, the government instead of using dialogue for their safety, is constructing bunkers, a pre-ceasefire phenomenon. Central government has sanctioned 14,460 underground bunkers at a cost of over Rs 415 crore for the security of people living close to the LC and IB.

The Uri sector in Kashmir valley, which was peaceful for last 15 years of ceasefire, has also been, of late, hit hard. The Indo-Pak shelling has forced migration of over 2,000 people from villages near the LC. And over 8,000 people living in the villages of Churunda, Silikote, Mothal, Hatlanga, Shoura Balkote, and Tilawari are sufferers of the cross-LC shelling.

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