Uneasy calm along LoC, but residents worried

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Jammu, March 8 (IANS) An uneasy calm prevails along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir for the last two days but hundreds of people living along the winding border remain on the edge.

After tensions mounted between India and Pakistan, hundreds of people living in villages near the 778-km-long LoC have spent the nights for more than a fortnight worried over possible shelling and firing by Pakistani troops.

“The present silence does not mean much to us except that we can wait for the guns to roar again,” said Noor Khatana, 67, a resident of Nowshera.

“We have seen these infrequent periods of peace getting frequently interrupted by raining of mortar shells and bullets. Unless the two countries pledge not to violate the ceasefire, we must wait to suffer again,” Khatana added.

The Indian military says there has been no violation of the 2003 ceasefire along the LoC — which divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan — in the last two days.

Troops stationed along the LoC and the 210 km long international border remain in a state of high alert.

The worst sufferers this time of the hostilities between the armies of the two countries have been the residents of border villages of Poonch and Rajouri districts.

Some houses in the border areas have been damaged by mortar shells fired by Pakistanis.

Residents in these villages had been advised by the district administration to avoid venturing out of their homes unless absolutely necessary.

Educational institutions within a 5 km distance of the LoC in both these districts continue to remain closed.

A senior official said that precautionary measures announced after shelling and firing started a fortnight back will continue to be in force.

“We will wait and watch the situation during the next few days and then decide on re-opening the educational institutions,” a Defence Ministry official said.



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