Kashmir killings spook villagers

2013-01-18 22:37
Pakistan control Kashmir Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed (3L) waves to supporters as he lead a protest rally in Muzaffarabad against the killing of two Pakistani soldiers on the Line of Control. (AFP)

Pakistan control Kashmir Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed (3L) waves to supporters as he lead a protest rally in Muzaffarabad against the killing of two Pakistani soldiers on the Line of Control. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The Line Of Control - On both sides of the de facto border in Kashmir, villagers living on one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints have special reason to fear the return of tension between India and Pakistan.

The Line of Control that separates Kashmir has been subject to a ceasefire agreed by the nuclear-armed neighbours since 2003, offering a semblance of security to the hamlets that dot the snow-capped, mountainous terrain.

Periodic violations and cross-border shelling are a constant menace, but a sharp escalation over the last 10 days following apparent tit-for-tat killings of soldiers by both sides has heightened a sense of dread of more conflict.

In the tiny settlement of Parla Mohrra, located in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and home to around 25 families, local families who eke out an existence on their farms are frightened.

Scared

The hamlet scattered over the hills appeared deserted when AFP visited on Wednesday. Nearby shops and schools were also closed as anxious residents refused to venture out of their homes.

Shameer Begum, a 55-year-old widow with 11 children, showed damage to her house and parts of a mortar shell which she said landed in her courtyard on Tuesday night, jolting her out of bed.

"We were so scared and started to pray. We can't live here if the firing carries on. But I'm a widow and I don't have the means to move," she said.

The settlement lies just 450m from the de facto border and an Indian army post can be seen across a deep valley perched on the brow of the hill in the distance.

The spike in cross-border firing in Kashmir - a region claimed wholly by both India and Pakistan - has seen five soldiers killed in recent days and threatened to unravel a fragile peace process that had begun to make progress.

Keeping inside

Shameer, her shawl wrapped tightly around her head and chest against the biting cold, said the timing of mortar rounds and firing was impossible to predict as she pointed to bullet holes scarring the wall of a neighbour's home.

"The children haven't been to school for three days as schools are closed. I don't even let them go outside," she told AFP.

Labourer Sardar Shahmim, 45, said men were taking on jobs traditionally done by their wives to spare them from venturing outside.

"We're not sending our women to fetch water. We go ourselves now," he said.

"We have enough food for today, but if the firing incidents carry on, our food will run out," he said.

A deal to "de-escalate" tensions and end the cross-border firing was reached during a 10-minute phone call on Wednesday between generals from both sides, which appears to have ended hostilities for the time being.

Across the border, in Indian-administered Abdulian village, security forces are on high alert, conducting patrols through the night and cleaning out old bunkers used by villagers for protection during earlier outbreaks of violence.

As locals cautiously carry on tending to their cattle and sheep in Abdulian, where the soldiers deployed nearly outnumber the local population, a sense of anxiety is palpable.

Wishing for normality

The hamlet, which is ringed by barbed-wire fences, has witnessed sporadic firing since the 2003 ceasefire, pushing villagers to ask the government to resettle them in safer areas.

In Charunda hamlet, where three villagers were killed by cross-border shelling last October, residents say their nerves are shredded by the prospect of an escalated conflict.

Nazir Ahmad, whose son suffered severe injuries due to firing in 2011, told the Deccan Herald newspaper he was praying for normality to return.

"We fear that we will face the worst situation again if the ceasefire breaks. We take shelter in the ground floor of our house or bunkers due to the fear of shelling," he said.

Farmers in India's remote and mountainous Poonch district, bounded on three sides by the Line of Control, said they feared a return to life before the ceasefire, when they were compelled to move home constantly to escape frequent mortar fire.

In the recent border flare-up, Pakistan says three of its soldiers have been killed in firing by Indian troops since 6 January.

India in turn has accused Pakistani troops of killing two of its soldiers on 8 January, one of whom was beheaded.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since independence over Kashmir.


Read more on:    india  |  pakistan  |  kashmir
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Oscar Pistorius
 

6 impressive camping tips

Check out these great tips that will make your camping experience so much better!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Free outdoor yoga classes
Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding
Action camera for all occasions
Tips on how to set your fitness goals

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is an easy social flow and the need to blend in, yet you may not feel entirely comfortable. Something beneath the surface...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.