Farmers Hope To Return To Fields As Army Clears Landmines On Line Of Control

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Fields in the border villages were taken over by the security forces and mined at the time of the Kargil Conflict in 1999


Srinagar:  At the Line of Control between India and Pakistan in the Rajouri district it's an unusual battle. Soldiers and their machines working overtime to clear landmines they themselves had laid so that fields at the border once again become safe for farming.

 "These mines are very old - sometimes they are not in the records also - we are clearing (mines) to avoid any accidents," said Commanding Officer Harinder Singh.

Fields in the border villages were taken over by the security forces and mined at the time of the Kargil Conflict in 1999 and operation Parakaram in 2001 after the attack on Parliament.

Villagers had already left the area fearing war. After the ceasefire with Pakistan in November 2003 the Army was determined to give land back to their rightful owners except stretches too close to the border.

Now after a more than a decade the army has decided to vacate this land as well.
 

Soldiers are working overtime to clear landmines

"People faced lot of problems due to these landmines, many children and animals have suffered due to these mines, there are many mines that need to be removed," said Mohammad Shafi, a local Villager of Rajouri

The border fence gets damaged by snow and avalanche. But the minefields are always a psychological barrier for the infiltrators.

Sometimes because of snow and rainfall the minefields actually move - making demining difficult - This happens in areas where there is a slope.

There has been a spurt in infiltration and encounters near the Line of Control but has not stopped the army from going ahead with its demining programmes. Clearly they are confident that they will be able to safeguard all the areas despite the provocation.


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