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J&K border dwellers fear collapse of ceasefire

By Anil Bhat in Kanachak
September 04, 2008 16:06 IST
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Rattled by frequent ceasefire violations and infiltration by militants from Pakistan, border dwellers are at their wit's end as they fear that the four-and-half-year truce could collapse putting their lives in peril. Dressed in battle fatigues and bullet proof jackets, jawans of army and the Border Security Forces criss-cross through hamlets and maize fields to hunt down infiltrating militants while village defence committees assisted by police conduct intense night patrolling.

The Ceasefire in J&K

Villagers of Laliyal border hamlet, about 1.5 km from Pakistani posts, say that movements of Pakistani rangers and other armed persons -- possibly militants -- have increased manifold.

"If border truce breaks, we will be killed in firing by Pakistanis. We are sitting ducks. We apprehend that Pakistan wants to break it (ceasefire)," Nathu Ram, who lost his brother in cross-border firing in 2001, told a visiting PTI correspondent.

LoC firing: India, Pak to hold flag meet

The daily Pakistan firing and mortar shelling before the November 23, 2003 border ceasefire had claimed the lives of many near and dear ones of border residents. There are over 110 border hamlets in the Jammu frontier -- within 500 metres to two kilometre range of Pakistani posts -- along International Border in Hiranagar, Kathua, Ramgarh, Vijaypur, Samba, R S Pura and Akhnoor sub-sectors.

"Movement across the border has increased. This is an area of concern. But our troops are vigilant," a BSF officer said.

Besides the fear that the truce may not hold for long, Nimroo Devi, whose husband was killed in firing by Pakistani troops, said they were living under the constant dread of infiltrating militants who intimidate residents.

4 BSF personnel injured in LoC firing

"Our lives have become miserable. Militants have entered two to three houses and demanded food," said the 45-year-old mother of three.

The villagers of Kanachak, Khour, Laliyal, Abdullian, Suchetgarh and Allah Miya De Kothi said that they were living a peaceful life after the ceasefire and even cultivating their lands on zeroline.

"Pakistani firing before the 2003 truce did not allow us to cultivate anything," a farmer said. Residents are also demanding greater vigilance from security forces against attempts to push in militants from Pakistan.

Gunbattle ends in Jammu, hostages rescued

"How did three militants infiltrate, stay in fields in Lalyal village and then dodge several security checkposts to reach Jammu city's Chinore to carry out the recent terror attack," one Panch Souran Singh said, adding, "If ultras can reach the city, we are just soft targets".

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Anil Bhat in Kanachak
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