Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday assured people living in border areas of the Jammu region that India was taking steps to ensure Pakistan was forced to stop firing.
“Just wait for some more time. Pakistan will forced to stop firing. If a single bullet is fired from Pakistan, then India should not count the bullets fired in retaliation,” he told a rally of migrants from the Line of Control (LoC).
Over 5,000 people living along the LoC were forced to move out their homes in the Naushera sector of Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir four months ago in the wake of heavy firing and shelling by Pakistan forces.
Singh said, “Whether they (Pakistan) stop firing today or tomorrow, they will have to stop firing and ceasefire violation.”
Flanked by Union minister Jitendra Singh and J&K deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh, the home minister said after the 2014 ceasefire violations, he had told the BSF director general that no firing should be carried out from the Indian side as Pakistan was a neighbour.
“Don’t fire first because Pakistan is our neighbour,” he recalled as having said.
He said, “Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to always says that friends can be changed but not neighbours.”
Singh said he had conveyed to the BSF DG that if a single bullet was fired from across the border, then bullets fired in retaliation by the Indian side should not be counted.
He said, “The situation was better to an extent. The situation is better now also. I hope that the situation in the future will better too.”
The minister, who visited border camps and interacted with migrants including women and children, assured them that steps would be taken to mitigate their problems.
“Whatever is possible I will do. People across the country have great respect and regard for the residents of the border areas. People in the border areas are facing unnecessary problems,” he said.
The minister said he had told the director general of border-guarding force Pakistan Ranger in 2015 that Pakistan was resorting to firing violating certain protocols which should be respected and followed.
“India is not a weak nation now. It has emerged as a powerful country under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. No one in the world now considers India as a weak nation.
“The image and prestige of India has increased globally as compared to the past,” he said.
Singh said after he took over as the home minister, the compensation paid to the next of the kin of people killed in cross-border firing was raised from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
He also said that five India Reserve Battalions have been sanctioned for J-K and 60 per cent of recruitment for these should take place from the border areas.
The minister said that recruitment in paramilitary forces also would be undertaken from border areas.
The migrants, during their interaction with Singh, made a strong demand for setting up of “bunkers” at their homes along the LoC.
“Our first and foremost demand is that the government should set up bunkers in each of the border houses if we have to live again along the LoC. We need bunkers more than food,” Jangarh resident Parshottam Kumar, the president of the Border Migrants Coordination Committee, told Singh.
The home minister visited one of the six camps set up in Noushera by the government for the migrants.
The sarpanch of Kalsian border hamlet Bahadur Choudhary said, “If we have bunkers in our homes, we will not leave our homes at all.”
Singh also visited BSF troops at a camp near the LoC here and said latest equipment was being inducted into the force for better and more effective domination of the border.
The latest tehnology would act as a force multiplier and also reduce the workload on the troops, he told BSF personnel.
He lauded the troops for guarding the border areas under adverse conditions.