Line Under Control

THE number of ceasefire violations and incidents of cross border firing in Jammu and Kashmir until June 2021 stands at 664, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) told Lok Sabha on Tuesday. In January 280 such incidents were reported as opposed to the 278 in February. The month of March witnessed no incident at all. The months of April, May and June reported 1, 3 and 2 incidents, the MHA also said.

In comparison, in 2020, 5,133 such incidents were reported, while in the year 2019 it was 3,479. The year 2018 witnessed 2,140 such incidents.

The drastic drop in ceasefire violations was made possible the ceasefire agreement that was dramatically signed by the militaries of the two countries in February. The move came reportedly following an extended back channel dialogue between the two countries.

Ever since there have been more efforts to improve the relations. Over five months into ceasefire along Line of Control, there is already ample evidence of life returning to normal among border dwellers. There have been many reports about the marriage celebrations in border areas. Similarly, there have been similar reports from across the line of control.

There are, however, still apprehensions among the people that the things might go still back to square one. More so among the people living alongside the LoC. There is already an example of what happened to original ceasefire agreement between the two nations which was signed in November 2003. However, by 2010, the agreement had lost its relevance due to frequent ceasefire violations that touched an all-time high in 2020 with over 5,000 incidents of firing and shelling being recorded.

A halt to the frequent firing exchanges will make a redeeming difference to the lives of lakhs of border residents on both sides of the Line of Control. But it won’t change anything as far as the situation in the Valley where militancy continues to reign supreme.

The issue of militancy can be addressed if India and Pakistan go back to dialogue. Talks could go a long way to reduce the tension between the neighbours. The calm borders had become an important factor in the normalization of the relations between the neighbours, enabling them to start one of the most promising dialogue processes through 2003-2007 which by accounts of the top leaders of the two countries who were at the helm of it was close to a breakthrough on Kashmir. We need a similar engagement between the two neighbours.

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