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June 28, 1999
Pak Rangers make life miserable for border farmers
The proud slogan of jai jawan jai kisan, once raised by former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, seems to have come a cropper for the border farmers in the wake of the Kargil crisis.
Heavy firing from across the border and alleged administrative apathy have put the farmers of the border villages in a fix.
''They (Pakistani Rangers) do not allow us even to go to our fields,'' says a villager in Samba near Jammu. ''Everybody loves his life, so do we. That's why we left the paddy uncultivated.''
Farmers of Nanga Chak and Chamalia claim that nearly 500 acres of paddy had been left uncultivated this year.
Chamalia's sarpanch Bahadur Singh says though they had a good rabi crop this year, only few could harvest wheat.
''With the beginning of the Kargil crisis and with intensified shooting from across the border, farmers had to leave their harvested crops in the fields,'' he says.
Taja Singh of Nanga village says, ''Pakistani Rangers have made our lives miserable. Despite a no-firing understanding between both sides, they don't live up to the commitment.''
''Although the Border Security Force assures us security and safety, they (Pakistani Rangers) are not reliable. They often open indiscriminate fire causing heavy damage. The BSF can only retaliate,'' he added.
Adding to their woes, the farmers allege, is the apathy of the authorities in providing adequate compensation for their losses.
The Jammu and Kashmir government has made relief and compensation provisions for farmers who lose their crops or were not able to cultivate.
But most of the farmers allege that in the name of compensation the authorities commit frauds. However, the farmers say they have urged Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah to intervene in the matter.
''It is very difficult to live here amid intermittent firing from across the border, but it is impossible for us to leave our homes and fields. We came here in 1947. How will we be able to survive without our lands?'' Balwant Singh of Kana Chak village asks.
He, however, says, ''We are ready to face all odds till our last breath.''
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