With the troops of India and Pakistan engaged in cross Line of Control (LoC) firing, the inhabitants of many villages located near LoC are being forced to leave everything behind and move. As the two un-decided countries, India and Pakistan, go on a shelling and firing spree again, people living near the sites of action have a lot to worry about. It is no surprise that many a times, shells, bombs and other ammunition lands on their habitations, devastating their lives with loss of loved ones and/or damaging property, livestock.
In circumstances, such as the ongoing one, it is but common sense that people living along the LoC vacate their villages. There is no system or infrastructure in place that would ensure a smooth relocation of these unfortunate people in times of flaunt of this belligerence. Dozens of families have got internally displaced due to repeated ceasefire violations in various sectors or regions near the Line of Control as well as near International Border. It does not make sense as what the troops on either side achieve by the heavy shelling that causes more damage to the people living on both sides. One would think in terms of military objectives, but the sense fails as nothing but aggression gets highlighted by these skirmishes.
Optimists would argue that the confrontations are short-lived phases and shift the entire blame on the “other” side who ‘did it first’. But these villagers have much more to endure and be petrified of. According to rough estimates (because serious estimates are never carried out for these parameters which are thought to be best pushed under carpet), some 3000 people have been affected by landmines and shells in the past two decades.
It is barbaric that the victims are usually innocent children who fiddle with the queer shiny metal in their play areas – fields and pastures, which turn out to be landmines and improvised devices. Every year, the playful poke into the scrap lying around proves to be the last act for scores of children; a greater number survive with the painful memories and missing limbs and organs.
As the debate for compensation for victims of sexual violence is getting louder, it needs to be considered how little children who are left to struggle on a limb or two less can be compensated. The two countries may present their development indices proudly in pin-stripes and polished halls of international organizations, but the wound that their policies are inflicting on innocent Kashmiri lives needs an international forum for display.
Sadly, there has been no significant attention on the gross human rights violations of this nature by national or international bodies that claim to believe in peace and justice. Not that there has been any development worth a mention where the attention of these bodies has been focused. It is for the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to garner some international support now.
More than a dozen UN agencies are involved in reducing the risk of stray explosives and landmines. Besides, huge organizations with a wide support base such as ICRC, Handicap International and others have reduction in damage by landmines and stray explosives as one of their areas of work. These organizations must be shaken to act by pressing the two countries to ensure the safety of civilians especially children, during and after their territory marking mock drills are over.
Besides land mines, use of heavy artillery has turned the villages along LoC into battlefields. People are afraid to go near them and even in villages that are remotely located with respect to LoC people live a life of constant fear. They fear that stray bullets or shells may anytime hit their homes. Because of the aggression of the troops on either side of LoC, people have to pay the price.
What is disturbing about cross LoC skirmishes is that they seem to have become routine exercises and therefore a norm. In dozens of villages near LoC and IB, the time is being remembered as without heavy artillery exchange or with it. The governments also seem to be helpless as neither of them have said anything about restrain on the borders lately. It is the opposite, befitting reply with more firing, more killing and more damages. People living near LoC and IB deserve to live in peace. It is their inalienable right, but for the militarist policy, they are forcibly exiled.