Life goes on along the INDO-PAK border

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Old 27-Dec-2008
deepak pace
Lightbulb Life goes on along the INDO-PAK border

People were seen going on with their routine
work as usual hardly bothering about what
was going on between the two nations

Gatti Rajoke (Ferozepur), December 25
Tempers may be rising high among people across the nation against Pakistan in the aftermath of 26/11 attacks in Mumbai but in the remote villages along the Indo-Pak border across Sutlej River in Ferozepur district of Punjab, the rural folk seem to be casually leading a routine life with hardly any signs of military build-up on either side of the international border.
The 250-km long international border with Pakistan in this district mostly divided by Sutlej as natural boundary and of late by the barbed wire fencing had in the recent times faced large scale migration in the year 2000-01 fearing possibility of a war between the two neighbours soon after the attack on Indian Parliament.
At that time, both the countries had almost aimed their positions with large build-up of army on both sides by moving their tanks closer, laying mines, strengthening of bunkers/communication system but at the last moment both the nations resolved not to take up this extreme step and instead began a dialogue to end hostility.
During a visit to many border villages Gatti Rajoke, Hazara Singh, Bareke, Jhuge, Chandiwala, Khunder Gatti, Habibi Ke, Bhokhra etc. and a couple of check posts it was observed that there was hardly any sign of the movement of Army or any type of extra vigil by the border security force on the border.
Even the people were seen carrying out their routine work as usual hardly bothering about what was going on between the two nations.
Perhaps, they seem to be aware of the fact that nothing serious was going on between the two nations keeping in view that neither the Army nor the Border Security Force had so far flexed up their muscles for the war.
Sukhdev Singh Sarpanch of Bareke village was disturbed over the prevailing uncertainty of war in the country and wanted that it should be over. He said, "War is not the solution to any problem".
This correspondent visited 'Satpal' Border Observation Post (BOP) situated in this village and found that there was only one armed BSF person defending the post, besides, one sub-inspector and a head constable in civil dress sitting busy in a cosy room doing official paper work. There was no body standing on the gate of the post to check the entry of outsiders.
The BSF personnel on duty revealed that they were carrying out their duty as usual and no special instructions had come to them from the higher authorities, except, to observe the movement of Pakistani Rangers and their Army on the other side in Rajoke Burj village.
Gurbachan Singh, a resident of this village while talking to The Tribune said, "There are no signs of war, no build-up of army, no extra vigil and no such instructions from the civil administration, so far".
The old man recalled that in the 1971 war Pakistani forces had captured their village and they left their houses just one hour before the Pakistani forces entered the village. Those who had boats crossed the Sutlej to safer places while many people had drowned in the river, he remembered.
He said that two of his neighbours were captured by the Pakistani forces and held under captivity but were later released after couple of days. It may be mentioned that this village is situated just 300 meters inside the international border landlocked on the Indian side by the waters of Sutlej.
Although, the local people had adjusted themselves to the hardships of living on a perilous border but they seem to be not happy with the government.
Even after 61 years of independence, the village sans 'pucca' roads, potable water supply and regular bus service, alleged Balbir Singh a young Sarpanch of this village.

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