Srinagar: Home Minister Rajnath Singh, on Tuesday, said that 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 Line of Control (LoC).
Singh, who is on a 4-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir visited frontier Rajouri to make a first-hand assessment of the situation set off by the truce violations and resultant plight of the border dwellers.
“Pakistan is regularly resorting to ceasefire violations due to which I feel Pakistan is not showing interest in improving relations with India.”
The Home Minister was told by local officials that more than 5,000 people living in 23 villages along the LoC in Rajouri’s Nowshehra sector alone have abandoned their home. They are living in relief camps, for the last four months to escape firing and shelling from across the de facto border.
Rajouri’s DC Shahid Iqbal Choudhary made a detailed presentation before Singh, about problems and losses faced by border dwellers due to ceasefire violations. These including, deaths and injuries, damage to private properties, schools and other infrastructure.
After hearing some of the horror stories from the victims, the Home Minister said that it was “painful” to know about their plight.
He 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.”
On the basis of information provided to him at a meeting of the officials including those from the local administration, the police, the Army and other security forces, the Home Minister said that Pakistan has, since 2014, violated the truce agreement more than 400 times every year. “This ought to stop,” he added.
The Home Minister, at the meeting, 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 and rehabilitation measures which are taken in the event of active hostilities breaking out along the LoC.
Choudhary said that the situation was so grim that alternative shelters for the border dwellers have to be set up on a land, measuring about 129 acres away from the divide line.
Also, bunkers have been or are being set up for the residents in the area even as the locals who interacted with the Home Minister demanded that ‘individual’ bunkers be set up for each household at respective houses.
They also demanded adequate cash compensation for the losses suffered in firing and shelling, special recruitment drive and education package, need for improvement in power and roads infrastructure in border villages, inclusion of crop losses under Prime Minister Fasal Bema Yojana, coverage of border migrants under SDRF norms and other proposals.
The Home Minister acknowledged their hardships but said that the country is proud of the border dwellers who are “strategic asset” for India.
He asserted, “If there is any biggest strategic asset of India, it is the Indian citizens living along the borders of the country. If we get strategic successes, it is because of your contribution.”
He said that the troops from the Army and the BSF have greatly contributed to defend the border of the country.
“But the border residents who are undeterred by the ceasefire violation have also contributed towards defending the borders,” he added.
He promised them all help from the government and said that already sixty major bunkers have been constructed and more would come up for the border dwellers.
He also said that the Centre has constituted a group of experts to study the problems and challenges of the people living along the border.
“This expert group will study the issue and give its opinion. We will act on that,” he said.
Singh who was accompanied by Minister of State at the PMO Jitendra Singh, J&K’s Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Goba and a battery of other officials reviewed the status of various issues and held detailed discussions with public representatives and senior officers.
He asked the State and Central government functionaries to work out a comprehensive action plan about various issues and demands raised for welfare, settlement and safety of border residents.
Local lawmakers who met the Home Minister strongly pitched for construction of bunkers, cash compensation for crop losses and recruitment of border residents in central forces, compensation to farmers located close to the LoC fence, package for bunkers, improvement in BRO road network, infrastructure development and providing basic facilities to border residents, the officials said.
In winter capital Jammu, the Home Minister met 39 delegations comprising various political, social, business, travel and trade organizations from across the region. The political delegations included those from the BJP, the PDP, National Conference, the Congress and others.
When asked about the Rohingya refugees in India, the Home Minister said that they could pose a security threat to the country.
“Rohingyas are illegal immigrants. Security threat can’t be ruled out,” he said.
He said that the government has adopted a "humane" approach towards migrants and displaced people but is strongly against illegal immigration.
Singh’s statement comes a day after UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein flayed any attempts by India to deport Rohingyas to Myanmar when the ethnic minority community is facing violence in their country.
He had said, “I deplore current measures in India to deport Rohingyas at a time of such violence against them in their country.”...