Border migrants still suffering, migration no permanent answer

Jammu and Kashmir is facing numerous problems. And despite current BJP-led NDA regime in New Delhi making all possible attempts to address them, there are still issues which need deeper understanding and redressal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government needs to be applauded for having taken-up the issue of relief to border migrants with the state government and then, taken over the actual distribution of relief to them.

New Delhi now directly deposits relief in the bank accounts of the borders dwellers, refugees and migrants due to Pakistan’s actions. The relief issue has been settled as of now. There are issues related to the amount of relief. Even that is being debated and discussed at the highest level. Resolution is on cards. But the issue that is hanging fire is about handling border migrants of Kathua, Samba, Rajouri, Poonch and Jammu that become the frequent target of Pakistan’s unprovoked firing and shelling. They live close to international border (IB) and line of control (LOC).

They are forced to leave their home and hearth as and when the situation deteriorates on the IB or LOC. The problem that crops up is that thousands of civilians who are forced to leave their homes close to the border owing to enemy firing and seek shelter at safer places have to be taken care of. Despite repeatedly inviting the attention of Pakistani Rangers to the commitments of cease fire, there is no relent in hostile activities of Pakistani Rangers.

Unprovoked firing and shelling has become a regular feature of border situation and state has to prepare accordingly. Pakistan leaves no stone unturned to scare the civilian population away from the border so that it becomes easy for their infiltrators to sneak in without detection. MHA has started building concrete bunkers close to border so that in emergency when Pakistani troops open unprovoked firing, civilian population can take shelter. The new government in New Delhi has taken effective steps for protecting human lives.

In that sense the families who have to shift so often will be provided assured shelter. But the question is that how long we shall remain on defensive as far as breaking peace on the border is concerned. Pakistan has succeeded in her designs of scaring away the population close to border on our side in order to make it safe and easy for infiltrators to sneak into our side.  Perhaps we should devise a more effective and long range solution to this problem.

Why should not concrete bunkers be made in large numbers along the vulnerable sites on the LoC and the IB which can be used by the civilian population in times of need? Close liaison between the border dwellers and the army has to be established especially when tension is high on the border. It means that there has to be close rapport between the army intelligence agencies and the local civilian population. Creating a four kilometre wide strip in three districts cannot remain a temporary arrangement. A day will come when nobody from among the civilian population would want to return to their original places and resettle there.

Actually we should have thought of encouraging people to construct houses close to the border to give an impression to the Pakistani side that we will not be cowed down by their intransigent firing and shelling. But this could happen only when we have foolproof security system in place along the LoC and IB. We do not hear that Pakistan is also vacating the civilian population to safer places on their side. So, it should be made clear to the border migrant families that they will return to their original habitats close to the border once conditions become normal.

Pakistan must make a firm commitment that it would not resort to unprovoked firing in future but would resolve any dispute or differences with Indian side through negotiations and bilateral dialogue. The country should be held accountable for its sins. If it provokes, cost of the provocation should be made unbearable so that it does not dare to repeat its evil actions. State government has already taken some steps but more stringent steps need to taken vis-à-vis the negative attitude of the Pakistani establishment. Border dwellers need to be compensated.



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