Life returned to normal on Thursday along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Jammu region almost a week after cross border firing ceased between India and Pakistan. Over 15,000 villagers from Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts returned home.
They had migrated to safer places following Pakistan Rangers’ repeated violation of the bilateral ceasefire agreement in the wake of the surgical strikes by India along the LoC.
While women and children continued to remain sheltered in makeshift accommodation provided by the authorities, men returned to their fields and homes for a short period during the day.
“One of the worst fears was that the ripe crops would go to waste if they weren’t harvested,” said Baldev, 45, a resident of RS Pura sector.
“If shells had continued to fall on our homes and fields as they did after September 30 for more than a week, we would not have dared to harvest our crops,” he said.
It is not just the rice and other grains but even the vast fields of vegetables along the border that required picking.
Even the loitering herd have started hurrying home in the evenings lured by oilseed cakes and fodder that are stacked for the cows and buffaloes.
Village markets in Khour tehsil have again started opening for shoppers as tractor loads of vegetables have arrived from the cities.
Peace was never this fragile in Jammu and Kashmir, said the villagers.
“When we hear artillery fire from either India or Pakistan, we realise that it’s time to pack and run,” said Satpal, 57, a resident of Hira nagar locality in Kathua district.
“It has been the same story ever since I was born,” Satpal said.
Despite the uncertainty that looms on their lives and livelihood, living in the face of danger has made the border residents brave.
“Nothing ever happens that Wahe Guru (God) cannot change for the better. When life and death are in his hands, why worry?” said Harjeet Singh, 80, from RS Pura.