Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Plight of Border Residents - 2 - Life has become a burden for them

Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Mohar Jamsher (Fazilka), February 23
Situated at stone's throw from the zero line, Mohar Jamsher village is surrounded by Pakistan from three sides and is sealed with the cobra fencing. Its fourth side has barricades protecting it from the Sutlej fury. And all this give a feeling as the fate of its residents has been locked forever. This is not one village whose residents are feeling neglected. The condition of residents of its surrounding villages - Mohar Khiva, Mahtam Nagar, Mohar Sona and Bahini Dilawar - is no better than inhabitants of Mohar Jamsher despite the fact that they are "blessed with" road connectivity to the Indian mainland.

A denial of basic amenities by the successive state and Centre governments, no educational and employment opportunities and "hostile" attitude of the authorities concerned towards their genuine problems has made their lives a "burden" on them.

"As we have taken birth in this area, we are passing our time. Life has got no charm for us," said Jagir Singh of this village, adding that now only a miracle could change their lives. "Should we rejoice at the fact that we are citizens of independent India when we cannot get bus service, civil and veterinary hospitals, high school, safe drinking water, toilets and roads in the past over 60 years?" he asked.

He said after Class V, children of the area had to go to Fazilka, 15 km from here, for further studies.

"We were uprooted in the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars. We were again uprooted when mines were laid in this area after the Parliament attack a few years ago. The Sutlej has also been playing havoc with our lives more often," said Karnail Singh, adding the successive state governments never showed mercy on their plight. About a year ago, the residents of this village also witnessed an unprovoked firing from the Pakistan side.

Unregistered medical practitioners hold higher status in their lives as in case of emergency, only they are available to them. Not only this, most of the residents have been left with no choice than to marry off their children to residents of nearby villages, which are having almost the same kind of atmosphere.

When residents of this village were asked whether any one from their village had been given employment by the Punjab government, they said only one person had been engaged as a boatman so far since Independence.

Most of the residents have been eking out their livelihood by rearing cattle and tilling smallholdings of land. A significant section of them would go to Fazilka town daily to work as labourers.

Though residents expressed their resentment over their frisking by BSF personnel every time whenever they enter or exit this village, they also appreciated them for their help being extended to them in case of emergencies.

However, they have been demanding that another cobra fencing, which was wrongly erected alongside the Sutlej about 25 years ago, must be dismantled. They also demanded that the BSF authorities should not dismantle a pontoon bridge over the Sutlej during the months when crops were sown and harvested so that they could be able to transport their produce at nearby markets without any hassle.

(To be continued)

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