Nothing changed in BJP rule, say border residents

Ram has witnessed four wars between India and Pakistan and numerous cross-border firing incidents. “But since 2014 when Narendra Modi took command of the country, the situation at borders has worsened,” he said.

YOGESH SAGOTRA
Jammu, Publish Date: May 25 2018 12:41AM | Updated Date: May 25 2018 12:41AM
Nothing changed in BJP rule, say border residentsFile Photo

Border residents say the situation along the borders has been worsening over the past decades, and the BJP government at the Centre has done nothing substantive to make it better in four years of its rule.

Octogenarian Kirpal Ram is discussing the raging cross-border firing between Indian and Pakistani forces, the worst in recent years, with two other elderly men at a relief camp set up at Vijapur for those displaced by the firing.

Ram has witnessed four wars between India and Pakistan and numerous cross-border firing incidents. “But since 2014 when Narendra Modi took command of the country, the situation at borders has worsened,” he said.

“During election campaigns BJP promised us land at safer places for alternate homes, emergency bunkers, better infrastructure and medical facilities but now we realise these promises were made only to get votes,” said Ram, a resident of border village Dag, 2 km from the International Border, in Ramghar area of Samba district.

“I had witnessed four wars. I remember everything vividly. The worst we had faced during those wars was dislocation from our villages. But at present it is worse. We don’t even get time to run when the firing begins,” Ram said. 

Jagdish Kumr, a resident of Rangur village said that during a cross-border firing episode the people in his village usually took shelter in store rooms or bunkers inside the homes.

“But the shelling yesterday was so frightening that we fled the village,” he said.

Many other displaced people said that several border areas have been calm since the 1971 India-Pakistan war, but since September 2014, the year BJP formed the government, their lives have become miserable because Pakistani forces have been targeting civilian areas. 

Jammu, which shares the 198-kilometers International Border with Pakistan, has seen more than 900 incidents of cross-border skirmishes this year.

Civilians, including children, have been killed on both sides and lost their properties in cross-border fire. As many as 50 people, mostly civilians, have died and more than 300 others injured on this side. Tens of thousands of people have migrated to safer areas.

“Forces were ordered to remain ready at the border during 1999 Kargil war but not a single bullet was fired from any side. But Pakistan now fires mortars. They might even be using tanks,” said Gopal Dass, 81, of border village Rasampur, less than a kilometer from the border fence.

He said the local MLA (from Vijaypur, Chander Prakash Ganga) has “not bothered to even visit us” while people “are at the edge facing mortars and bullets”.

The villagers also question the recent government announcement that 14,460 underground bunkers would be constructed for the people living along the Line of Control and the IB in Jammu division.

“We don’t understand the logic of building community bunkers away from residential areas. Shelling happens without warning and sometimes we can’t even step outside. What is the use of bunkers in such a situation? Bunkers should be made for individual families so that they can take care of them and use them in emergencies,” the villagers said and also demanded adequate medical facilities near vulnerable areas.

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