Amid mounting tension between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack, an eerie silence prevails in the villages along the 198-km International Border in the Jammu region.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has started shifting its people from border villages, fearing major “retaliatory action” from India.
Residents of Londi village in the Hiranagar sector of Kathua district, which is a stone’s throw from the International Border (IB), said three major villages in Pakistan’s Amruchak tehsil — Sukhmal, Sukhechak and Chajar — located opposite their village had been vacated by the Pakistan Rangers.
“Hectic activities are going on the other side of the border as the Rangers have been replaced by the Pakistan army and there is no civilian activity,” said Rajinder Sharma, a resident of Londi. He said: “For the past couple of days, we have not heard the call for prayers from the mosques located on the other side of the border.”
Fear has gripped the villagers who are uncertain about the situation against the backdrop of the killing of 40 CRPF men in the Pulwama suicide car blast and the subsequent worsening of relations between the two neighbouring countries.
In the Arnia sector of Jammu district, the situation is no better. Border dwellers are worried over the activities on the other side of the border. “There is a heavy deployment on the other side of the border,” former sarpanch of the Changia panchayat Raghuvir Singh said, adding, “border villagers have been evicted by the Pakistan authorities.”
From Londi to Changia, where the Tribune Team visited on Wednesday, fear and uncertainty was visible in the border residents of Kathua, Samba and Jammu districts. An eerie calm prevailed in the areas.
Senior state officials remained tightlipped over the situation. They, however, said they had prepared a contingency plan and were ready to deal with any situation.
As per the official data, 457 villages with a population of 4,51,856 are located along the IB and the Line of Control in Kathua, Samba, Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch districts in the Jammu region. Residents of the villages are the worst victims of the Pakistan shelling and firing.
Of them, over 1.50 lakh people are living along the 224.5-km-long stretch of the LoC in the Jammu region and the rest live on the International Border.
[Originally posted in The Tribune India]