Home Ministry Team To Study Risks Faced By Border Villages

The home ministry will set up an expert group to look into the problems people living in villages along the Line of Control (LoC) face. The study group will look at ways to improve lives of cross-border ceasefire violation victims. The violations have increased since 2014, senior officials told ET.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday had said Pakistan seems to be disinterested in improving relations with India as was evident from frequent violations of the November 2003 Ceasefire Agreement by its troops along the LoC.

The study group is expected to come up with suggestions to not only increase the safety and security of the border residents but also to look at ways of making funding in Border Are a Development Programmes effective.

Singh during his four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir last week had visited frontier Rajouri for first-hand assessment of the situation set off by truce violations and resultant plight of border dwellers.

“Pakistan is regularly resorting to ceasefire violations due to which I feel Pakistan is not showing interest in improving relations with India,” he had said. Such incidents of violations were reported days before his tour started and on the day it ended.

In 2011, there were 62 ceasefire violations by Pakistan. There were 114 of those in 2012 and 347 in 2013. After the NDA came to power in 2014, the number of cross- fire violations went up to 583. It was 405 in 2015 and 449 in 2016. In 2017, till August, there have been 418 ceasefire violations by Pakistan, according to numbers in the home ministry.

It is said that local officials told Rajnath that more than 5,000 people living in 23 villages along the LoC in Rajouri’s Nowshehra sector alone have abandoned their home and have been living in relief camps for the last four months to escape firing and shelling from across the border.

A senior home ministry official said the Centre has already arranged 60 bunkers on Indo-Pak border but delegations of people who met Singh during his fourday tour of the state conveyed to him that they need more. “The Home Minister has received requests for more community bunkers with an attached toilet or a bunker with every house and cluster bunkers. He wants these suggestions to be thoroughly reviewed by an expert group,” said the official.

The official added that Singh was clear that lives of the people who faced such frequent firing were fraught with risks and more was needed to be done.

“The compensation to kin of deceased or those who are injured in these incidents of firing has also been increased from Rs 1 Lakh to Rs 5 lakh.” Rajnath had also said, “Our Army and BSF jawans are giving a befitting reply to these ceasefire violations. But we will create such conditions that they (Pakistan) will be forced to stop violations today or tomorrow.”

At the meeting, Rajnath also reviewed the status of migration in Nowshera in the aftermath of ceasefire violations, the status of relief camps set up for displaced families and rescue measures taken in the face of firing along the LoC.

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