By Raza Ruman
The First Post, an Indian publication, has brought forth that India had approved the construction of 14,460 bunkers along the Line of Control and the international border in Jammu and Kashmir, in a bid to protect the border dwellers but these proved to be “death wells”.
In its report it said one such bunker was constructed at Lal’s home too last June. However, according to him, it is built so badly that it might just prove to be a “death well” instead of a secure hiding place during shelling.
“You can see there is no cover over the stairs. Also, it has no water or electricity. If we take shelter inside it, it will kill us anyway,” he scoffs.
Another villager, Bhaga Ram, says the government’s half-hearted approach in constructing the bunkers shows that it cares the least for the lives of border dwellers. “Please see for yourself the dilapidated condition of this concrete structure, a so-called bunker. Rainwater has inundated it. One cannot survive inside even for an hour. How can the government expect us to stay inside it for days together?” he asks.
Ram adds that the best possible thing for the villagers would be to relocate elsewhere. “Unless the bunkers are properly covered and have water and power facilities, they are useless for us.”
Usha Devi (29), a local, says she wants the government to ensure dedicated focus on the women living in the border areas. “There should have been vocational training institutes where women could get trained to earn a livelihood. However, we have been left in the lurch with no focus on our upliftment,” she rues.
According to her, there are no livelihood opportunities available to the people there, except traditional farming. “Our crops are destroyed every time tensions between the two sides rise. We have sacrificed a lot in the past, but the government doesn’t seem to be interested in listening to our woes,” she adds.
On the other hand, Anil Kumar, who is pursuing his graduation in a Jammu college, says there should be a special quota for youths living in border towns in army recruitment. “It is strange that Rs 10 lakh and a government job is given to a Mujahid who surrenders in Kashmir, but those who are guarding the borders are left at the mercy of the situation. Shouldn’t the government think of our betterment, knowing full well the predicament that surrounds us all days of the year?,” Kumar questions.
According to Bhupinder Singh, a local youth working in a private firm, the area voted unanimously for the BJP in the 2014 elections, hoping the party’s pro-development agenda would benefit border towns as well.
However, five years down the line, he adds, not much has changed and the locals continue to struggle every day to make ends meet. “We will now vote for whichever party gives ample assurances of protecting our lives and properties and compensates us for past losses.”
This report exposes Modi government’s tall claim of development and securing it’s citizens. Pak Destiny