Young voices on Kashmir

Life along Line of Control

Irtaza Muhammad
Not a single day goes by without exchange of fire along Line of Control (LoC), separating Azad Kashmir from the Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir, where tens of thousands of people are residing. The ceasefire violations have resulted in loss of life, property and left the people crippled.

The LoC was declared the ceasefire line in 2003 which lasted for almost a decade. However LoC has been a hotspot since its existence. After the Uri attacks in 2016, there has been an unprecedented surge in ceasefire violations across the LoC and working boundary which divides Jammu region of Indian-held Kashmir from Pakistan.

Pakistan and India have fought two wars on Mountainous region of Kashmir divided in two parts by Line of Control. The 742 km long LoC stretches from the base of Siachen glacier in the north to the Punjab border in the east. Because of its geographical importance, border skirmishes are the order of the day and peace prevails only in rare intervals.

 The State Disaster Management Authority Department of Government of AJ&K released a report on damages incurred to civilians and their property in the year 2020.In merely one year, thirteen people died and one hundred and seventeen were critically injured. Twenty five properties were fully destroyed while Two hundred and twenty seven properties were partially damaged. The damage due to unprovoked shelling is not confined only to humans, but animals too. According to SDMA, eighty-seven cattle were perished in AJ&K only in the first half of 2020.

A considerable number of people have migrated from the regions along the LoC, leaving their houses and lands behind to save their lives. Thousands of people living under direct shelling range always remain frightened of a mortar bomb that can wreck their homes and kill their loved ones. A friend of mine named Mohsin Chaudhry, who is a civil engineer by profession shares his emotional story of how he along with his family had to move away from their home near the Line of Control in search of peace and protection. During our bachelor studies, we often used to witness Mohsin worried about wellbeing of his family as shelling was a routine course in the region he belonged to. He was not able to connect with the family and friends back home. He often used to cry and share the pain of his personal sufferings with us. Our mutual friends from Punjab and Sindh could never comprehend the problems he experienced living in his village, Samahni, 180-km from Islamabad, situated along the LoC.

After securing a job the first thing he did was to move his family out of hazard zone to secure their lives.

Abandoning his ancestral place resulted in separation from relatives and financial burden of acquiring a rented house as he is the sole bread earner of his family.

Muhammad Afzal, a resident of the Neelum valley who is another victim of LoC skirmishes recalls the day when his father was killed by a mortar fired by Indian armed forces. Afzal, along with his three brothers and three sisters grew up facing massive hardships as orphans, having their mother only for supporting them. The sudden death of his father had left a grief on his heart which will never fade away. He says “our lives would have been better if my father was alive”. Neelum Valley is a district of AJ&K, known for its scenic beauty, waterfalls and lush green mountains that attracts a significant number of tourists. Thousands of people are linked with Tourism industry in Neelum Valley. The Industry saw a boost during years 2014 to 2018 but soon after Pulwama attack, the influx of tourists came to a halt. People associated with tourism sector have severely suffered due to unprovoked shelling across the valley. According to the data released by SDMA, 117 buildings including hotels and rest houses were destroyed partially and 18 fully by shelling only in Neelum Valley. People of Neelum valley continue to live under shadow of guns as provision of bunkers for the residents of LoC remains a dream to be fulfilled.

After Covid-19 engulfed the world and got declared as a pandemic, the global focus shifted from warfare to medical care and it was expected that the LoC would be denied blood of innocents for some time, but this hope smashed to smithereens as unprovoked shelling did not stop.

The local skirmishes along the Line of control recently took a new shape when Indian army used Bofors (Long Range Artillery) on 11th and 12th April, fixing them in the middle of a village named Panzgam in district Kupwara, Indian-held Kashmir. The Local people of the village protested against Indian Army for placing bofor guns in residential areas. This was severe violation of Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions that forbids use of Human shield. Usage of long range artillery resulted in loss of a number of lives on the other side of the LoC.

The people living along the LoC have never been considerably compensated for the damages incurred to their properties and more importantly, the loss of lives. But a recent decision made by the Government of AJ&K for the financial help of these suffering people has been welcomed by the conflict stricken community. AJ&K’s cabinet approved monthly “Guzara Allowance” for the families of martyrs in the unprovoked Indian firing along the LoC. Under the AJ&K Ceasefire line Incidents Relief (Amendment) Act, 1992; each member of the affected families will get 2000 PKR every month. The affected families have also been included in “Ehsas Programme” of the Federal Government.

The valiant people residing near the LoC are utterly frightened and uncertain about their future. While the peace in the region is contingent upon the ultimate resolution of the Kashmir issue, the presence of a strong political will on both sides and inclusive dialogue is the only way forward to ease sufferings of the Kashmiri people.


Irtaza Muhammad

The writer is associated with the Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR).
He can be reached at irtizamuhammad23@gmail.com

Share this on:
September 2020
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4

We have 12 guests and no members online