Rajouri: For the past more than eighteen months, the people living along the Line of Control (LoC) in the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch have been reaping the benefits of peace due to the ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan.
Their joy knows no bounds as their normal life sans deafening and life-threatening mortar explosions, and gunshots have picked up the pace. They want the situation to persist forever.
However, their grouse remains that the government has failed to take advantage of this hard-earned lull by expediting developmental activities to improve the standard of life and infrastructure in the border villages.
Official statistics suggest that the ceasefire agreement, which had come into effect in February last year, has been followed in letter and spirit by the armies of both sides so far, thus paving way for the restoration of peace.
“Since February 2021, it has been more than eighteen months now. But not even a single incident of ceasefire violation has been reported during this period. This has been taken as a 'constructive' development by the security forces and agencies,” officials maintained.
“The Indian Army is ensuring that this agreement continues to be implemented in letter and spirit even in the days to come and the borders remain peaceful,” they said.
The villagers living on and along the Line of Control too want the status quo to persist as this ceasefire agreement has brought real relief to them.
“This is the civil population along the Line of Control (LoC) that suffers due to shelling and firing. A common man has to suffer, both in terms of life and property,” the villagers point out.
“In past several years, people in LoC villages faced immense losses as their houses, shops were damaged, and cattle were killed. Not only this, they also incurred an irreparable loss of many lives. Now when the guns have fallen silent for the last eighteen months, it has been a big relief for us,” they share their joy.
“We demand that this agreement should continue for an infinite period so that the life of border villagers improves,” said Hanif Malik from Tarkundi along LoC in Rajouri.
He said, “With the silence of guns and peace on LoC, the life of a common man has improved and life has picked up its normal pace.”
“I have seen more than half a dozen such phases of peace and skirmishes. I’m happy that now LoC is again witnessing a state of peace with normalcy,” said a senior citizen Subhash Sharma of the Keri LoC area of Rajouri.
Sharma said, “However, it is sad that the government has failed to take advantage of this period of peace to enhance the developmental status of villages and thus improve the standard of life.
“The status of the road, health infrastructure, electricity, water supply, and education is deplorable in LoC villages and there is a dire need to improve them. During skirmishes, it is difficult to carry out development activities for improvement amid shelling. But the government should have taken advantage of this peace period to improve the situation in terms of development in LoC villages,” rued 65-year-old Subhash Sharma.
However, there is another aspect to the ceasefire agreement. The last 18 months of the ceasefire have witnessed a rise in terror incidents in twin districts.
As per official figures, two major encounters took place at Chamrer and Bhata Dhurian in Poonch last year besides two encounters at Bhangai Top and Dori Maal in Rajouri in which several terrorists were killed but the Army too suffered major losses.
In 2022, besides an encounter at Kandhra hill in Budhal Rajouri in which terrorists managed to flee, a suicide attack took place at Pargal in Darhal in which five army personnel and two terrorists were killed.