People offer Friday prayers in border villages, pray for peace

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Srinagar: There was no extra ordinary movement in the villages which are under direct fire line from Pakistani troops in the north Kashmir on Line of Control (LoC), where Friday prayers were offered normally though people prayed for peace between the two neighbours.

People offered prayers in their respective mosques and other shrines as usual in Gurez sector, which is surrounded by Pakistani troops from three sides, a resident Mohammad Yousuf Khan told UNI over phone.

Life was normal in border town of Uri, where fidayeen attack on Brigade headquarter on September 18 left 19 soldiers dead and more than 20 injured before all the four Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants were killed.

Interestingly people remained indifferent to tension between the two countries in the Kashmir valley, where life remained crippled for the 84th consecutive day today due to curfew and restrictions on assembly of people imposed by the authorities and strike, called by separatists, demanding right to self determination.

However, ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) expressed concern while its alliance partner Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the action against Pakistan.

Mr Khan said immediately after the news spread yesterday about strike by Indian troops against militant camps across the LoC in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), there was panic among the residents, who were the worst hit before the 2003 ceasefire agreed by India and Pakistan on the borders. “We lost many lives and dozens become handicapped because of shelling from across the LoC before ceasefire,” Mr Khan said, adding people were living since then without any fear being caught in the Pak shelling.

People prayed for peace between the two countries which was necessary to keep guns from both sides silent, another resident Abdul Rashid said, adding it is the civilians who suffer the most as security forces from both sides remained in bunkers while the politicians far away from LoC.  People across the LoC also face similar situation, he said adding they too were killed and lost their legs and arms in the shelling.

Mr Khan and Mr Rashid said following announcement by the authorities that schools and government offices will remain closed today; there was panic among the people. Some people cleaned the bunkers constructed before 2003 while others shifted their families to Srinagar or Bandipora.

“We have a big tunnel, used to transport material from Bandipora to Gurez for a power project being constructed by Hindustan Construction Corporation (HCC) over Kishan Ganga river, where people can take shelter in the event of shelling from across the border,” they said.

However, they said people are confident that there will be no war as in the past Pakistani troops were raining entire Gurez with mortar and other shells when there was any tension on the borders. Even after more than 24 hours the situation was still normal though Army personnel could be seen making some movement and inspecting Bofors and other guns ready to strike from this side in the event of any ceasefire violence by Pak troops.

They said today all educational institutions, offices and banks besides shops and business establishments remained closed and very less number of vehicles were plying on the roads.

Situation in border town of Uri remained normal though people feared trouble only in the event of any war. We have been witnessed tension between the two countries on the border since 1947, said Mohammad Yaqub Khan, a resident from Nambla Uri.

He said people continued to live in their homes and offered Friday in mosques in their respective areas without any tension. However, he said people prayed for peace in the region.

Another resident Gul Mohammad said the bunkers constructed before 2003 were damaged in a devastating earthquake in 2005. The bunkers have not been reconstructed so far, he said adding people have no alternative but to leave their homes for safe areas in the event of Pak shelling.

Shops and business establishments were doing normal business while traffic was also plying with government offices and banks functioning normally.

Situation in other border areas, including Keran, Karnah, Machil and Tanghdar and Naugam, where ceasefire violation by Pak troops was recorded yesterday, was normal.

Common people remained indifferent to border tension between India and Pakistan believing that there was just ceasefire violation on the LoC in which two Pak soldiers were killed yesterday.

Meanwhile, expressing grave concern over the escalation of tension along the borders in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti yesterday said the confrontation could lead to a disaster of epic proportions if urgent steps were not taken to bring down the heightened tensions in the region.

“New Delhi and Islamabad must open the channels of communication realising the dangerous consequences of any escalation of ongoing confrontation along the borders,” the Chief Minister had said while reacting to the latest situation unfolding in the region.

Expressing concern over situation along the LoC, former chief minister and National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah appeals for restrain and peace.

Responding to surgical strikes, Awami Ittehad Party chief and MLA Er Abdul Rashid said, “Whether India and Pakistan indulge into a war makes very little difference to Kashmiris, as we have been the worst victims of state oppression in every nook and corner of state. There is a war every day in each locality of Kashmir and the only difference is that atrocities on Kashmiris go unheard and loss to lives and property in Kashmir gets buried under the cover of India’s nationalism.”

However, despite media gag, India couldn’t stop people from discussing Kashmir from New York to Geneva and OIC to China, he added.

 


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