Uneasy Calm In Kupwara As Guns Fall Silent

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Locals look on at damaged properties following cross -border shelling in Kupwara. (PTI Pic)

Srinagar: An eerie silence prevailed along the Line of Control (LoC) as the mortar guns of India and Pakistan armies remained quiet during the last 48 hours in north Kashmir.

Three civilians, including a woman and child, were killed on Sunday when the two estranged armies engaged in a fierce firefight along the LoC in frontier Kashmir district of Kupwara.

Despite Pakistani guns fell silent since Sunday afternoon, people are reluctant to go back to their homes. Meanwhile, the residents of affected areas, who didn’t leave, are praying for peace and demanded construction of bunkers.

The villagers said that it was the heaviest shelling by Pak troops in the area since ceasefire agreed by India and Pakistan in 2003 on LoC and International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir. “This was the first time that shells have fallen deep inside Kupwara villages,” they said.

Five heavily-armed militants and as many soldiers were killed in an encounter which ensued after alert troops foiled a major infiltration bid from PcK in Keran sector on April 5.

Official sources said that Pakistan troops are violating ceasefire to facilitate militants to infiltrate into Kashmir valley. “A large number of militants are waiting at launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PcK) to sneak into this side,” they said.

However, they said despite facing all odds, Indian troops remained on high alert along the Line of Control (LoC) to foil any militant attempt to infiltrate into this side.

JKAP Demands Concrete Bunkers In Border Areas

Expressing serious concern over the loss of precious lives due to frequent skirmishes along the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) on Tuesday demanded immediate construction of underground bunkers in order to save the life of inhabitants of forward areas in Jammu and Kashmir.

In a joint statement issued here, the JKAP leaders extended solidarity with the bereaved families of three deceased including a minor boy who lost their lives at Reddi, Chowkibal and Tumna areas of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district in cross loC shelling on April 12.

They also prayed for speedy recovery of the people who sustained injuries during the incident. “It is unfortunate that there is no letup in shelling even during the COVID-19 pandemic, causing more worries to the civilian population living in the border areas of Jammu and Kashmir,” they said, demanding immediate compensation for the bereaved families.

Referring to a Defence Ministry report indicating an increase in the incidents of ceasefire violations along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir since August 2019, the JKAP leaders said that in view of the heightened cross-border shelling, the Centre must sanction and order speedy construction of concrete, underground bunkers for all the left out border areas in the Union Territory, especially in Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora districts.

They said that the bunkers have been found to be an effective response to cross-LoC shelling, providing the residents a safe place to save themselves during the shelling incidents. “The residents of border/LoC areas of Jammu and Kashmir have been the worst victims of skirmishes and hostilities along LoC. So the government of India should take concrete measures for their safety and security,” the JKAP leaders demanded.

They added that people living near the LoC in Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora districts and their fellow citizens living in border areas of Jammu province live in constant fear and agony.

“People living in these areas have suffered deaths, injuries and loss of property amid intense firing and mortar shelling. The Ministry of Home Affairs in Government of India must ensure availability of sufficient funds to respective district administrations for construction of bunkers at least meant for two three households jointly in all border areas in Jammu and Kashmir,” they said.

They also urged the government of J&K to ensure free food, ration, medicines and other essential items in border areas in view of the COVID-19 lockdown. “The government should ensure free distribution of masks, sanitizers, food and ration to the areas in border districts which have been declared as Red Zones like in Tanghdar, Karnah and Keran areas,” they appealed.

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