Watch | Life along the LoC

A video feature on the residents of Balkote and Silikote in the wake of the India-Pakistan ceasefire

March 10, 2021 12:32 pm | Updated 12:54 pm IST

The villagers of Balkote and Silikote near the Line of Control in Baramulla’s Uri live just 850 metres away from the Pakistan Army positions on the hill slopes of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

They are finally picking up the threads of life which was badly frayed by frequent shelling and sniping in the last three years..

It has been over a week since the guns have fallen silent on the LoC after the renewed pact on the ceasefire between India and Pakistan .

However, people here are waiting and watching how long the ceasefire will hold. Lassa Dar, a resident of Silikote, hopes that the ceasefire agreement , though fragile, would change the lives of the border area residents.

While the soldiers manning the LoC in Uri remain on guard, a sense of calm is visible on their faces. 

For scores of the border residents, the peace may come as a time of healing, though many scars remain fresh.

Lassa Dar's niece, 15-year-old Shahista Bano, is the eldest of five siblings. A daughter of a labourer, she has been forced to take on the role of a mother at a young age. 

Her mother, Farooqa Begum was killed on November 13 last year by a powerful shell fired from PoK. Last week, Shahista cleared her Class 10 examination, despite the tragedy that struck two days ahead of her English paper on November 15.

Ghulam Qadir Chalkoo, a 67-year-old retired employee, has come face-to face with trauma often.  He lost his wife to Pakistani shelling in 2003 and his son lost both his legs in 2001 when a shell exploded.

Officials said 22 civilians have been killed in border skirmishes along the LoC in 2020, the highest number of violations since the Kargil war.

Like the border villages of Rajouri, Poonch, Samba, Kathua, Bandipora and Kupwara districts, Uri too turned into a theatre of war at least 21 times last year. 

Circled by multi-layered barbed fencing on three sides and the PoK pickets on the fourth side, the people of Silikote village live in a grim gated community.

All members of around 16 households in the village have to share their biometrics with the Army every time they pass through the single, well-guarded entry.

About half the villagers, out of over two dozen houses, have already left their property in Silikote and shifted to safer locations in Uri town. But not all can afford to do that.

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