Kavita Suri

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Crop worth lakhs burnt on Jammu International Border

14,000 quintal wheat, 2000 acres of wheat fields burnt by Pakistani tracer firing in Jammu, Villagers protest, demand compensation 

CHAK HANSA (International Border), May 12: Tears well up in his eyes, words fail him as he picks up the burnt wheat in both of his hands from his agricultural fields in the border village of Chak Hansa. Choudhary Garo Ram, 58, a farmer living in Chak Hansa village of Ranbir Singh Pura sub sector used to earn a comfortable living from the money which he used to get after selling his wheat crop cultivated over 320 kanal of his agricultural land in this border village situated right on the International Border .But now, he along with his family is on the verge of starvation. Not because the routine Pakistani firing from across the border has already made his and thousands of other border residents’ lives miserable, but because for the first time since the hostilities broke out before India and Pakistan, the Pakistan army has been resorting to tracer firing in most of the agricultural fields in this sector resulting in the burning down of his harvest. The tracer fire which is still on in some border villages, has destroyed at least 14,000 quintals of wheat cultivated over 2000 acres of land which has now been totally burnt down. Flames resulted in the loss of crops worth several lakhs of rupees. An uneasy calm prevails in the effected border villages of Ranbir Singh Pura sub sector. Faced with the wrath of Pakistani rangers and army since past so many years, the border residents, many of who had also been dislocated from their houses in December last year after the heavy build up on both sides of the border, had never thought that the things would worsen to this extent. Having cultivated their field for the past six months, now was the time for these farmers to reap the harvest. Most of them expected a good yield as the crop was good this time but they could never thing about tracers being fired by Pakistan which could reduce crop in 2000 acres of land to ashes. The official sources told The Statesman that at least 2000 acres of land spread in dozens of border villages in RS Pura sector has been targeted by tracers fired by Pak army. Dozens of tracers are still being fired by Pakistan army. The effected villages include Kotli, Alla Mai Di Kothi, Kharkhola, Sangral, Mangral, Kotla Manhasa, Samka Post, Takanwalia, Fatehpur Salaria etc. According to official sources, Pakistan army first fired a volley of tracers in Kotli Ghazia village in the last week of April last month. The fields which were dry due to extreme heat wave conditions caught fire after being hit by the tracers. Resulting this, the fire spread quickly and soon engulfed the fields of surrounding Kotli Charkan villages in its grip. About tracer fire, a BSF spokesman told this correspondent that the tracers usually guide the fire . Normally, firing is not done by using tracer but these are used only when the army or rangers want to target a specific aim. “This time, with the deliberate aim of targeting crops of border villagers, they used tracers which when fired on these agricultural field, guided the fire, resulting which most of the crop which was ready for reaping ,got burnt,” he said adding that the fire later spread to other fields in view of rise in temperature and dry fields. Though the district administration had tried to get the fire tenders extinguish the fire, yet standing crop continued to be reducing into ashes as fire was beyond the control of Fire Extinguishing Squad. Fire Brigades from RS Pura and Jammu tried to control the blaze but to no avail.  Residents of these villages have also held massive protest demonstrations against Pakistan during the recent visit of Additional Deputy Commissioner and Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO), R S Pura Dushyant Sharma. The officers had gone there to assess the loss suffered by the farmers and to fix amount to be given to them as relief. After taking stock of losses suffered by farmers due to burning of crop, the Tehsildar Mr Ram Sawroop Abrol has requested the higher authorities to visit the area to assess the situation and provide compensation to hapless farmers. People shouted slogans against Pakistan and demanded that Pakistan should be taught a lesson for this act. "Last year due to drought like situation we suffered huge losses and this time Pakistani troops have dashed our hopes", the villagers said adding that their poor economic condition has received yet another jolt at the hands of Pakistani troops.  Prem Singh, another farmer of the same village, told this visiting correspondent that if the government would not provide them immediate relief to the tune of Rs 1000 per kanal, they can commit suicide in sheer frustration. Mr Rohit Kansal, Deputy Commissioner Jammu informed that they have already submitted a compensation package before the state government. Soon, a compensation package for the effected farmers would be expected. For the time being, he said, the district administration is giving 7 kg ration per person to the effected farmers. Meanwhile, the State BJP chief Mr Daya Krishan Kotwal has also demanded immediate compensation for the effected farmers whose crops have been burnt down in the Pak firing. He told reporters that the administration should given proper compensation to the farmer as they are starving .Former Minister, Mr. R. S. Chib also called on Revenue Minister, Mr. Abdul Qayoom here on Friday and asked for a relief package for the affected farmers of R. S. Pora in Jammu whose wheat crop was damaged due to the recent Pak shelling in the area. He also demanded fodder for the cattle of the affected farmers. The Minister assured Mr. Chib of every possible help to the affected people. Meanwhile, there was no let up in Pakistan firing at other places on the International Border (IB) .Heavy exchange of firing was reported from Old and New Kanachak, Gole Pattan, Chinore Farm, Pargwal, Pallanwalla and Garkhal in Jammu district, Regal, Chachwal, Chalarian and Khawara in Kathua district.In Samba sector, both the sides exchanged intermittent firing but there were no reports of any casualties or damage on either side, the sources said.  Indo-Pak troops were regularly exchanging firing on the IB in Jammu sector for the past many weeks now. A number of civilians and security forces jawans had suffered injuries in the firing. 

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