Continued Pakistani firing forces 1L J&K locals to flee homes

Gogona Saikia

Continued Pakistani firing forces 1L J&K locals to flee homes

24 May 2018: Continued Pakistani firing forces 1L J&K locals to flee homes

A week of continued firing by Pakistan has left border villages in J&K abandoned, as 1,00,000 people have been forced to flee to safer areas.

The houses left behind in some villages of Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts tell intense tales of damage.

Amid such a crisis, locals are annoyed because they have so far received no help from the government, they say.

Situation: People are dying while in their own houses

Tuesday evening, Soonam Kundal's father, mother and brother were outside their house in Keso as her father repaired a boundary wall.

Suddenly, a mortal shell landed in the compound, injuring all three. Soonam, who was inside, escaped harm.

She is now shifting to her aunt's home while her family members undergo treatment at a hospital.

Sadly, this tale resonates with many, many locals.

Scenes: Similar scenes at Keso, Nanga and other villages

Like Soonam, many have packed their bags and are moving in with their relatives in other places. Some have gone for relief camps.

The men of Keso generally join their women and children at camps in the evening, staying home during the day to look after their houses and cattle.

Scenes are similar at Nanga village, once home to 3,500 people.

Government: Government not helping even as shelling has increased, locals allege

Soonam's aunt Ruby is angry with the government. "We have pleaded with politicians to provide us land at safer locations" but with no results yet, she says.

61-year-old Des Raj, a retired soldier, has similar complaints. "We have experienced firing from across for decades but the intensity has increased ever since the BJP came to power at the Center," he says.

Status: 16 people, including 8-month-old baby, killed last week

Pakistan has continued shelling on Indian border villages and outposts since some time now. Sixteen people, including civilians and security personnel, died in the last one week alone.

One of the victims was an eight-month-old baby in Bhimber sector.

Following the infant's death, India yesterday summoned the Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan, Syed Haider Shah, and lodged a strong protest.