With ceasefire violations by Pakistan on the rise along the international border and LoC in Jammu & Kashmir, the Centre has set up a study group to look into the problems faced by the affected border residents and suggest solutions.
The study group will be chaired by joint secretary (internal security) in the home ministry and comprise four other members, including principal secretary (home) of J&K; divisional commissioners of Jammu as well as Kashmir and joint secretary (J&K) in the home ministry who will also be the member-secretary. The panel has been told to submit its report in two months.
Among the issues that the study group will go into are temporary relocation of civilians living close to the border.
LoC in the event of sustained firing, setting up of fortified bunkers to temporarily shelter such population; compensation or financial assistance to be paid to make good loss of life, property and cattle due to shelling; and compensation for land acquired for fencing. It will also examine the border residents’ demand for weapons to defend themselves from possible attacks by Pakistan’s border action teams.
The creation of the study group comes amid rising incidence of border aggression by the Pakistani forces this year.
There were over 600 ceasefire violations by the neighbour till September this year, up from 450 in whole of 2016. Eight civilians and 16 security personnel were killed until September against 13 civilians and security personnel each in 2016.Only this week, firing from across the LoC in Poonch claimed two lives and injured a dozen people.
“Indian forces have managed to push back many infiltrators and also neutralised several top terrorists in J&K. To increase the pressure, the Pakistani forces could now root for civilian targets,” said home ministry spokesperson Ashok Prasad.
He said the group will come up with suggestions aimed at raising preparedness of locals residing in villages close to the LoC/IB to counter the belligerence of Pakistan.
Incidentally, locals had raised their concerns arising out of border shelling/firing with Union home minister Rajnath Singh during his visit to J&K border areas last month. Singh had then promised to address them. The formation of the study group is a step in that direction.
The MHA order issued on Thursday said the group will meet the people living in the border areas of J&K; public representatives, district administration and security forces deployed in border areas.