The residents of Uri town, who moved from Line of control (LoC) to government camps following heavy shelling from Pakistani side refuse to go back to their homes.
Kamalote, a village at the zero line presents a picture of destruction. Many houses were damaged by shelling from Pakistan’s side and at least seven people were injured last week.
Mohammed Rafiq (63) sitting in the corner of girls secondary high school in Uri town with his grandson said, “The situation is very bad, the border areas are living in a state a fear, there is no village where people are not scared, shelling is taking place in all the villages.”
Speaking to India Today TV, Rafiq said he moved out with his family when a Pakistan shell landed barely metres away from his house. The impact caused a loud explosion in the middle of the night and their kuccha [mud] house shuddered with glass window panes shattered.
Shaheen Fatima, a woman in her 30s camping in the school with her family of eight said its been hard on them.
She said, “People had a narrow escape when Pakistani shells rained on the village”. Fatima’s biggest concern is for the well-being of her six-year-old son Asif.
“There was no other place for us to go so we came to this school. Our village is always struck by firing. We were very scared and came here, there are 1200 houses in our village,” she added.
The sleepy town saw a massive protest in the main market with residents demanding the construction of underground bunkers for the safety of people living in border villages along the LoC.
Mufad Ahmed, the principal of girls secondary school in Uri said he understands the pain of Kamalkote and other forward areas.
Originally a resident of LoC, Ahmed along with the administration opened school rooms for displaced people.
“There are no bunkers in the areas, so we have opened our classrooms. Heating equipment and langars [community kitchen] have been provided,” Ahmed said.
In wake of heightened border tensions between India and Pakistan, many residents of Uri subdivision in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district have also moved.
Some accused the administration of not fulfilling their demands of construction of underground bunkers from the past several years.
“Post 2005 earthquake, the government promised us construction of underground bunkers and alternative land for construction of houses at a safer place but till date, we have been deprived of safe bunkers,” a resident said.
He alleged that Indian government had already provided bunkers to residents living along the LoC in Jammu region, but demands of Uri residents were ignored.
Another resident said, “Uri people were being given a cold shoulder”.
Meanwhile, an official said the entire district along the LoC region will require 2500 to 3000 bunkers. While many have taken refuge with family and relatives, some have taken shelter in government camps. The residents live in fear, however, are hopeful that the bad time shall pass.