EDUCATION WORST HIT
Young students live in fear as even schools are not spared in the escalation initiated by Pakistan.
There are other kids in the village, much younger than him, who are also unsure of their future. “The school remains shut for days when shelling continues. Our parents don’t let us go out,” says 10-year-old
While most kids speak shyly about their experiences, seven-year-old Mustafa prefers to nod his head covered
with a green skull cap to answer and speaks only when absolutely necessary.
On an extreme corner of the government school
is a shabby looking building that is a semi-constructed bunker next to the playing area for kids that has swings and seesaws.
another village, kids are better off studying in a school run by the army. For these young children, the sound of booming guns and shells falling even close to their schools has become a routine but their aspirations are the same as children their age living
in the mainland.
Here most girls want to be a doctor or journalist while the boys look to join the army.
The army carries out mock drills to ensure the kids are taken to the safety of bunkers whenever shelling starts.
“We continue with our classes in the bunker even if there is shelling so our studies don’t get affected,” says Class 12 student Afiya Naaz who says she
wants to be a doctor. In a packed bunker, there are nearly 100 children at a time who try to go about their studies normally if shelling starts.
With a lack of development and little employment opportunities for the population here, it’s a matter of survival for the families.
There have been infiltration bids all across continuously from the Pakistan side. The pattern has been similar where these attempts have coincided with ceasefire violations and heavy shelling.
Lt Gen Harsha Gupta, the General Officer Commanding the 16 Corp based in Nagrota says, “There has been an increase in the effort by Pakistan to push in terrorists after
Balakot airstrike and then Pakistan heightened activity post abrogation of Article 370. The number of terrorists south of Peerpanjal range has increased to 250 according to estimates.”
Terror movement and activities are being picked up at short intervals by the surveillance system and cameras day and night.
LIFE MOST DIFFICULT ALONG FENCE
For those living in villages that fall ahead of the fence of the LoC, life is even more difficult. They are most prone to shelling from
One of the residents such a village Mohammed Arif Khan says the bunker scheme is good but it will take time.
“The numbers are still less and those in most forward areas are yet to get it. Whenever work starts they again get damaged with
a fresh round of shelling.”
In such a situation bunkers are there only hope for. While many bunkers are coming up they
feel more needs to be done.
Another resident Mohammed Akram says this has been a war zone. “Every moment, be it day
or night, is like war here. There is little help from the civil government and we are cut off from the world.”
of the population here belongs to the Gujjar and Bakarwal community who are cattle grazers and losing their sheep or cattle means they have to incur heavy losses.
As heavy caliber shelling and ceasefire violations peaked last year, the last few months have been particularly tough for the civilian population as the exchanges have continued even in the chilling winter.
As the higher reaches of Kashmir are covered under snow the focus has shifted to the south of Perpanjal range.
Areas like Nowshera, Sundarbani, Krishna Ghati, Bhimber Gali, Poonch have been have remained tense with frequent shelling and skirmishes.