'Fear of unknown' giving sleepless nights to Jammu border residents

As situation on borders between India and Pakistan continues to escalate, people living in the villages dotting the front line in Jammu division are living in fear amid troops’ build-up.

Residents of several border villages, from Kathua to Poonch, say they have “never faced such a scary situation.”

The deployment of anti-riots force – Rapid Action Force (RPC) – CRPF, BSF and CISF in these villages, both on LoC and International border is being seen by the villagers as a “sign of tough days ahead”.

A source said authorities have directed for emptying all conference and banquet halls in many areas along the borders to keep them ready for shifting people from the border areas in case of need.

A Sarpanch, Mohammed Razak who lives near Line of Control in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district said ther were all kinds of rumors afloat in their village. “This has scared everybody,” he said.

Razak said the rumors about scrapping of state’s special status have deepened the tension in the entire tehsil. “The situation on the borders has now added to the panic,” said a local from Mendhar, Raiz Malik.

Malik said each time there is escalation in the situation on borders people living in the border villages suffer the most.

Former Sarpanch of Barota-Lagwal village along IB, Prem Pal Singh said the fear of unknown was giving sleepless nights to people. “If there is conflict between India and Pakistan, border residents remain at the receiving end. We have no bunkers in our village,” he said, demanding that Government should construct bunkers for each family in the border villages.

Kali Dass, another Sarpanch from border village of Rangoor in Ramgarh sector of Samba district said, “The residents of their village are used to firing cross border shelling. We have grown up in this atmosphere. We will fight back with Army if any situation develops,” he said

He said government had proposed construction of 365 bunkers in their villages, but only 85 have been completed so far.