Gurez LOC Tales: An Eternal Trauma

Gurez LOC Tales: An Eternal Trauma

He was running on the wooden bridge towards his home, calling mummy! Mummy! And suddenly he stopped in front of a lady, which was some foot steps away from me and extended his other hand and said, ‘Look at this.’ There are some shell pieces in his little fist. He presented pieces of black and smelly iron as a medal of victory. Lady asked him to throw away the pieces and wash his hands with soap by saying that fragments emitted chemical gas that could be dangerous. He pulled his hand back, closed his fist and smiled. In the Bagtore village of Gurez valley, near the Line of Control, children are mostly exposed to ammunition and its users. The Line of Control (LoC), which divides disputed Kashmir between India and Pakistan, is notorious for violating the ceasefire agreement, there are some villages in Gurez valley of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district who are living a life of stress amid this unending trauma. As the situation on the LOC became tense, the residents moved to the safe areas as soon as the firing stops, many families sought refuge in nearby areas for a few days. Residents here have received several indications that something bad has happened since February this year. There are at least two houses in the middle of village Bagtore of Gurez valley that had been evacuated due to poor living conditions. A few months ago, a shell hit a mosque, damaging its roof, a villager said.

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Another villager told that, “People in and around the village are very worried. We are too poor to go anywhere in the safe areas for living purposes. That is why they are forced to leave their lives and the lives of their children to Allah and live here.Now after what is happening here on LOC, the only fear is that we will also be attacked. His Son said, that everyone in this village spends their childhood in the thunder of Shells.”Now we know that this is our life, this is our village and this is our land. Yes, I feel scared, but what can we do?

But there are also a large number of people who move to safer areas with their families as soon as the situation here on Border becomes tense.

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Shair Khan’s family has been living in a temporary house(houses owned by People of Gurez for temporary stay in winter) in Mantrigam village of Bandipora District(Some 60kms from Gurez) with their children and other family members for a week. An incessant series of fierce gunfire erupted some months ago in his village of Bagtore. “The firing had been going on for two or three hours,” he said. I was going to feed livestock when suddenly the whole village was shaken by a barrage of shells.I sat there.I was crying and I was convinced at that moment that I would be shot and I would die.When the noise of these heavy shells stopped for a few moments, I ran home.

At that time, his family decided that he should go to Bandipora.”We picked up some luggage, couldn’t pick up anything, couldn’t carry my Medicines, some locked the doors, some left open.” If the shelling on the Line of Control is high, the families in these villages come to safe areas to save their lives.Life in these areas, which are considered safe, nowadays seems to be going on as usual. But fear and uncertainty also prevail here. Talking with Noor Mohd,a local of Bagtore village of Gurez.In these words, he has mapped out the picture of unending LoC shelling in Churwan,

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“Someone is farming, and someone else, when there is shelling, it is difficult to reach a shelter to avoid it.”

“When we leave home, we don’t know where to go. The children’s school is in the village, their education stops there and from childhood to old age we live between bullets,shells and ostracism”.

Similarly while talking with a lady, she said, Firing on the LOC is nothing new, nor is the evacuation of civilians to safe areas. But in the midst of all this strife, I worry about my children’s future. She says, “These kids can’t even prepare for their exams in such a situation. You tell me how these children can compete with other children in Competitive exams”?

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Holes are visible in the walls of the house and glass and other debris are scattered all around. Fear of 13th November three-hour shelling is still fresh in which the shells landed in between the residential houses in Dhaasi area resulted in injury of 2 minor girls among 5 civilians. In a hushed voice, she says: ‘The house was shaken, children and adults were all crying.We were nervous. We were shelled all around. We couldn’t go out’.

While talking with The SDM Gurez,he said that, “we have 50 community bunkers,one each for every household falling beneath the Line of control. When the situation becomes tense,we took People to safe areas and keep them in these community Bunkers”.The transitional line of control (LOC) dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan is one of the most dangerous borders in the world. After the Partition of British India in 1947, India and Pakistan became embroiled in a war over Kashmir. During the talks, the two agreed to declare it the line of control.

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Millions of Kashmiris live on both sides of the same transitional border, which has been the scene of years of clashes between Indian and Pakistani forces. In 2003, the two countries unanimously declared a ceasefire on the line of control, and for many years the border population breathed a sigh of relief. But over the past few years, the Border has once again erupted. The two countries have been accusing each other of violating the ceasefire. Every day, soldiers and civilians are killed on both sides of the Border.

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