Guns along the Indo-Pak border have fallen silent but border dwellers are living in the shadow of death as hundreds of live mortar shells fired by Pakistani troops are lying across border villages and farm lands in Jammu region.
Security forces have warned border dwellers not to touch live shells that have landed in border hamlets and agricultural land in Jammu, Samba and Kathua along the International Border and twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch along the Line of Control.
As Sukham Chand returned home in his hamlet in Arnia sector, he could not enter his border home as a live mortar bomb shell was lying in his compound.
After security forces got information, they came to the rescue of Chand and defused the shell.
Like him, Daljeet Singh of Korotana hamlet is living in fear as several shells have landed in his paddy field creating deep craters.
"I can resume agriculture work once all these live shells are recovered and defused safely otherwise it is a death trap for us. We fear to move towards our agricultural land now”, Singh said.
As per the police, many live shells have been found in villages and farm lands.
"We have identified 30 live mortar shells in various border villages and agricultural land along the LoC in R S Pura and Arnia sectors today. They have been marked”, Sub-Divisional Police Officer, R S Pura, Surinder Chowdhary said.
Out of them, eleven have been found in Arnia sector and 19 in R S Pura sector, the officer said, adding few have been defused.
Police have written to the army to set up a bomb disposal squad and detect and defuse bomb shells.
“We have written to the army to carry out an operation and detect and defuse mortar bomb shells which are lying in border villages and agricultural lands and can pose a threat to area dwellers once they return home”, Chowdhary said.
As most of the people are out of their houses due to threat of border shelling, a full exercise to detect all such shells is still underway.
"Once the border people return to their homes, we can gauge how many live shells are spread out in villages and border towns”, he said.
As per reports, Pakistan has fired 3000-4000 mortar shells targeting Indian villages and border towns in which 12 people, including seven civilians and five security jawans have been killed and over 65 people injured in Samba, Jammu, Kathua district along the IB and of Rajouri and Poonch along LoC.
Pakistan Rangers started shelling along the IB on Wednesday last.
Over 300 educational institutes are closed since the firing began along the IB and the LoC in Jammu region.
The once-bustling settlement of Arnia and a chain of border hamlets along the Indo-Pak border wear a deserted look with over 40,000 villagers abandoning their houses along the Indo-Pak border to escape the shelling by Pakistan.
Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Kumar Rajeev Ranjan said 58 villages in Arnia and Suchetgarh sectors of Jammu district have been affected due to shelling by Pakistan.
"Over 36,000 border dwellers have migrated from their homes", the DC said.
While most of the border dwellers are living with their relatives, over 1000 are camped in boarding and lodging places set up by the government in schools and panchayat houses.
In Samba and Ramgarh sectors of Samba district, over 5000 people have migrated besides over 3000 from Hiranagar sector of Kathua district.
Image: A woman salvages utensils at her damaged house after heavy shelling by Pakistani forces, at border village Jora Farm in R S Pura Sector, about 35 km from Jammu. Photograph: PTI Photo