Country may have moved on, but still under haze of bullets

Country may have moved on, but still under haze of bullets

His shrivelled skin hangs over the contours of his cheek and collar bones; a silver-white beard covers the gaunt face. Jai Singh fits the description of the 90-year-old he claims

.

The vivid recollections of his life during the partition riots offer further proof of his advancing years, but the horrors, he says, did not completely vanish despite his attempt to escape it.

The country witnessed one of the worst violence during the partition riots in 1947, which Singh witnessed as a young man as he migrated from across the border to Jammu.

“My father, mother, brothers and sisters were consumed by the violence of the partition. All of them were killed in Bimber, Mirpur (in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). I was lucky to survive and managed to reach here along with my uncle,” Singh, who has made this little village his home for six decades, told Deccan Herald.

The village, 42 kilometres from Jammu city, hardly offered any cover from the brutality of war and aggression for this frail old man and his neighbours, who, he claims, are the worst affected by Indo-Pak border conflicts.

“I am a farmer and my family is dependent on farming. When ever there is a war or ceasefire violation, we are the worst hit. The whole country has progressed and moved on since  Independence, but we continue to receive bullets and shells,” he said.

“Shelling and bombing on citizens settled along the border areas in recent times has threatened our very existence and survival. We live in muddy houses and feel utterly helpless (during the fighting),” he said.

Singh blames politicians of both India and Pakistan for the situation. “It is not just us (on the Indian side) who are at the receiving end, but our brethren across the border are also victims like us. The politicians on both sides of the border have only one job to do: threaten each other and offer false promises. It is us (on the border areas) who bear the brunt of the conflict.”

Politicians have promised over the years that citizens living along the border will be given suitable government land five kilometres away from the International Border ,but it has never been honoured so far.

“In 2002, the government had promised to provide each family living along the IB, under the shelling range, 10 marlas of land (free of cost) in the safe zone, so that people could move there during border disturbances. More than a decade later, the government is still sleeping over that promise,” Singh says.

He asks those in top echelons of power in the capital to address the needs of border settlers and protect their human rights and dignity.

Recalling his younger days in Pok, Singh, a farm labourer, says he spent time playing with his brothers. Life was simple and people could eke out a living, he reminisces.
“The mayhem and terror of the partition riots in 1947 snatched everything from me. Now my children and grandchildren are suffering because of shelling and firing on the border. God knows better when this mayhem will end,” he says.

The weary face looks more tired and lifeless as the eyes looked heavenwards.

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