LoC Skirmishes: Residents of border hamlets flee

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Kanachak (Jammu): Leaving behind blood-stained beds, dismantled roof-tops and windows punctured by bullets, residents of border villages say that they were like sitting ducks for target practice of Pakistan’s troops as they marched to safer places.
“We have become sitting ducks for target practice of Pakistan’s troops. Our men have been injured in the firing and shelling and two among us have been killed,” Bagh Ali of Jorha Farm said.
Ali and 300 residents of Jorha Farm hamlet close to International Border have fled their homes fearing more firing from Pakistan’s troops.
Nearly 30,000 people have been displaced from 113 border villages along the 192-km long International Border following one of the worst violations of the 2003 ceasefire by Pakistan which has left eight people dead and 80 others, including nine security men, injured since October 1.
Panicked villagers said they were fed up with the seemingly endless cycle of violence.
“Fear of death due to Pakistan shelling has forced us to leave our home and hearths and take shelter in camps here. Our houses have been dismantled by shelling,” 47-year-old Suchet Singh of Kaku-Da Kothay told PTI.
“I found a new life. I narrowly escaped each time the mortar bombs rained over our house. Our rooftop was torn down and walls were pockmarked by bullets. I thanked God for saving my life and left next morning,” Mahasha Kote dweller Raghu recounted stories of worst spasm of terror in the tense region.
As per the district officials, border people from 113 hamlets located close to the IB in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts have migrated and taken refugee either at shelter camps or with their relatives.
“Over 50 border hamlets and Arnia town along IB in Jammu district are almost completely deserted,” District Magistrate Jammu, Ajeet Kumar Sahu told.
People from over 20 border hamlets along IB in Samba have shifted to safer places, District Magistrate of Samba, Mubarak Singh said.
According to District Magistrate of Kathua, Shahid Iqbal, people from 43 border villages have been shifted to safe shelters in the view of heavy shelling on the IB in Hiranagar sector.
J&K Government has set up 24 camps for people evacuating areas affected by the firing and shelling, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Shantu Manu said.
“Crisis management groups have been activated in the area on the borderline from Poonch to Kathua district,” IGP Jammu Rajesh Kumar said.
(PTI)

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