Kashmir Borders Peaceful As India Pakistan Renewed Ceasefire Enters Third Year


SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir’s borderland continues to be peaceful and tension free as the ceasefire between the rival armies entered the third year. There is no shelling from either side and life is near normal. Unlike past, people straddling the Line of Control are throwing big feasts on marriages, which are visible and noisy.

Sweets exchnage Teetwal on July 21 2021
A sweets exchange between the two army officers from India and Pakistan on the bridge over Kishanganga in Teetwal. The sweets were exchanged on the the occasion of Eid on July 21, 2021.

The ceasefire is holding despite Islamabad and Delhi not seeing eye to eye and the diplomatic relationship continues to remain at the lowest ebb, ever. The two countries, however, continue to hit at each other in international forums, mostly on and around Kashmir. The security grid continues to maintain a strong counter-infiltration mechanism in place.

In the last two years, there were only three instances of breach of ceasefire and the officials insist they were of minor nature.

While the infiltration is by and large very difficult, the security grid is facing two different challenges. One is the use of drones in supplying arms and ammunition and another is the consistent supply of drugs. While the patches of the International Border falling in the Kathua and Jammu sector is usually in news for drone infiltrations, it is the Karnah (Tangdhar) sector of the LoC that is usually been as major source of drugs entry into Kashmir.

With the guns silent along the Line of Control (LoC), the residents who were earlier demanding bunkers and shelters to save from raining shells are now seeking better road and other basic infrastructure.

“The road stretches at Dardkote in Uri are dotted with potholes which speaks volumes about the tall claims of the government of improving road connectivity,” Faisal Khan, a Sarpanch in Uri, were quoted saying by a local news gatherer, KNO. “The road is dotted with huge potholes and has not been repaired for the last several years and the authorities concerned are least bothered about the sufferings of people. The road acts as an important link which connects several areas and thousands of commuters, transporters pass through potholes every day.”

The residents expressed concern over the condition of government schools. “Four classes are functioning in a single room at Dardkote,” they said, adding that similar conditions are in maximum government-based schools”.

Authorities, however, are not taking the bunker construction far granted. By the end of fiscal 2022-23, almost all the bunkers are expected to be ready. MHA is funding the construction of 14460 bunkers which includes 13029 Individual and 1431 community bunkers.

The bunker construction was not impacted by the February 25, 2021 ceasefire when the Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan announced the ceasefire after discussing it on hotline. The ceasefire was outcome of back-channel diplomacy between the two countries and took many months to happen. AK Doval, India’s  National Security Adviser and Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed are reported to have held a secret meeting in the United Arab Emirates in 2020, which led to the February 25 joint statement from the rival armies agreeing to strict adherence to the 2003 ceasefire understanding. This actually was revival and renewal of the ceasefire that came into force on November 26, 2003.

Both sides maintained a ceasefire for the first three years. However, in 2006, the breaches started and continued expanded with the hot talks in Delhi and Islamabad.

In 2017, 12 civilians and 19 security personnel were killed in border shelling incidents. 2018 saw 2140 instances of ceasefire violations, which peaked to 3479 in 2019. In 2020, 46 people lost their lives in 5133 incidents of ceasefire violations.

On February 3, 2021, MHA told the parliament that in three years – 2018, 2019 and 2020, 72 security personnel and 70 civilians were killed in 10,752 cases of ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir on LoC and IB. In these incidents, 364 security personnel and 341 civilians survived with injuries.

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( With inputs from : kashmirlife.net )

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