Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Freedom still out of bounds : Surrounded By Pakistan Border On Three Sides, Village Has Fencing On Indian Side Too

Times of India, 15th August, 2007

Mohar Jamsher (Ferozepur): After 60 years, India has too much to boast about, but for this border village freedom is still out-of-bounds. Barbed wire on three sides demarcates it from Pakistan, but the fourth side facing India is also fenced and has a gate, which opens at 9 am and is closed by 5:30 pm, according to BSF norms. Having 750 residents, it’s the only village along the Western frontier which has fencing on all four sides.

Mohar Jamsher sarpanch Harbans Singh said the village is paying the price of Independence and Partition. “We are not free here,” he said. Now he resides outside the village, but at the time he lived in the village, life was hell, he added. Recently, Lal Bai (50) lost her daughter-in-law Sheela Bai, as she could not cross the gate on her way to hospital for delivery. She along with her baby died on the spot as the gate could not be opened on time. “This is enough for others to know what kind of freedom we enjoy,” she said. In fact the BSF officers told TOI that they have orders of opening the gate only in the case of emergency that too on the orders of a DIG rank officer.

This is not the only issue, villager are facing many more problems, which could be noticed as soon as one enters the village. There’s no electricity, no telephone, no roads, no drinking water, no police, no shop, poor education, no development schemes, but only troubles. The villagers said they have only three tractors as far as automobile are concerned.

“Slowly, we all are leaving the village,” said the sarpanch. “Our village is like a jail, we have to get back at 5:30 pm,” said Balbir Singh, a local resident. The village elders said they would be happy if the village could be shifted to the neighbouring country. “Our children can’t go outside the village, our guest cannot stay over night, what freedom are we talking about,” said Lakshman Singh. “If guests come, they have to go through rigorous processes and then BSF people call us outside the village for identification,” said Balbir Singh. “Now, they have stopped coming to us. Moreover, we are finding it tough to get our sons married outside the village,” he said. “People are ready to marry our daughters but not sons,” he rued.

The Army sources said the village is located between the pillar number xxxx and xxxx and the village is cut by Sutlej river on the Indian side. For crossing the fence, on banks of the river, one needs permission of BSF and identification of the sarpanch. The BSF records of last 17 years show that local MLAs, MPs and the other opposition leaders only come here during election days. Meanwhile, SDM, Rajeev Prashar told TOI that the local administration has plans to ask Indian Army to construct roads in the village.


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