Uri: In a historic move two years ago, the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan announced a ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC), bringing a glimmer of hope for peace in Uri area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
The ceasefire, which has been adhered to by both sides, has led to a sense of tranquility in Uri.
This has given hope to the people of the area of promoting border tourism, which was otherwise not possible in the volatile region.
For Irshad Ahmad, a resident of Silikote, a village located along the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri, the ceasefire is a fine line between survival and destruction.
He said that for the people of Uri, who have seen loss of lives and destruction of property during the hostilities between the two countries, the ceasefire has given them reason to believe that life is beautiful in the absence of war.
“There are several families who have been devastated by the cross border shelling in the past. Some families have lost their only source of income while some families whose houses were destroyed in the shelling are still unable to construct a house,” Ahmad said.
He himself has been a victim of cross-border shelling.
In 2001, his right leg was amputated after he was injured with the splinters of a shell.
Following the ceasefire agreement, there has been a sense of security among the residents living along the LoC.
There is no fear in taking a stroll in the evening while school children, who in absence of peace could not afford to step outside the four walls of the school building, are even attending classes in the open air.
On February 25, 2021, the DGMOs of India and Pakistan issued a joint statement stating, “In the interest of achieving mutually beneficial and sustainable peace along the borders, the two DGMOs agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have potential to disturb the peace and lead to violence. Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings, and ceasefire along the LoC and all other sectors with effect from midnight February 24-25.”
The ceasefire besides ensuring sustainable peace in the area has encouraged people of the area to look for new avenues and opportunities.
The youth of the area after witnessing sustainable peace following the ceasefire agreement are now highlighting the region’s tremendous potential of emerging as a border tourism destination.
Muhammad Akram, a resident of Nambla, Uri, while advocating for exploring the region as border tourist destination said, “In the past we have been only highlighting the destruction and ordeal of the people caused by frequent ceasefire violations. However, with the ceasefire in place, we want to show the outside world that Uri has more to offer than showing people of the area as victim of hostility between the two neighbouring countries.”
Farooq Ahmad, a resident of Uri, said the area was bestowed with shrines like that of Hazrat Pir Gaffor Shah Gazi in Kamalkote, Ziyarat Hazrat Baba Farid in Gharkote, and Dhata Temple in Mohra.
“These places can be promoted as part of the religious tourism circuit. The area also has a potential for trekking and exploring new areas like Nambla, Dana Nambla, Nambla Waterfall, Copra Peak, Dudran, Dana Dudran, Chotali, Zulfikar Viewpoint, Machichurand, Lachipora Wildlife Sanctuary and several other places,” he said. “Time has come to promote the area as a beautiful border tourist destination. If the State authorities show some interest in this direction, it will change the socio-economic status of the people who had been the worst victims of hostility between the two neighbouring countries.”