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July 26, 2000
At least Pak shelling has stopped, say Kargil residents
War is never welcome. However, for the people of Kargil district in Jammu and Kashmir, one war did have a positive outcome - an end to the relentless shelling by Pakistan, which had disrupted their life for over two years.
A resident Mohammed Sadiq said that the area remained near normal during the 1947,1965 and 1971 wars. However, things were different between 1997 and August 1999. "We lived a life of fear because one was not sure when a Pakistani shell would land in town." he said.
"This is for the first time since 1997 that we have not migrated to other places as the Pakistani guns are silent after the Indian army gave them a befitting reply," most people in Kargil and Drass said. They acknowledge that this was possible only because of 'our brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives to silence Pakistani guns for ever'.
Several functions were held across Kargil and Drass districts on Wednesday to pay homage to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the Kargil war. The main function was held at Bimbat on Drass-Kargil road where senior army officers placed wreaths at the new war memorial. Army personnel who participated in the war were present on the occasion.
A defence ministry spokesman said that Operation Vijay was another milestone in the annals of Indian military history and proved a turning point in Indo-Pak and Indo-United States relations. Mediapersons were taken to Drass and other areas where Pakistani intruders had occupied heights last year and briefed about how the war was fought and won.
Ghulam Abass, a businessman said, "we were leading a peaceful and happy life when all of a sudden Pakistani troops showered mortar and artillery shells from across the border." The shelling continued and, at times, shelling went on for three-four days at a stretch, he added.
Mohammad Hussain, a student said, ''studies were badly affected as we migrated to safer places. Our examinations were cancelled and schools shifted many a time."
"After Pakistani intruders occupied heights in Kargil, Drass, Mushkoo and other areas, we thought that we will never be able to return to our homes again. But thanks to the Indian Army, we are leading a normal life without any fear," he said. After Pakistan's defeat, there was not a single incident of shelling from across the border. "Pakistan's Kargil misadventure was actually god's blessings to save us from the daily shelling which had turned our lives miserable."
Safer Ali and Bashir Ahmad of village Holia in the Mushkoo valley said that they were about to resume farming in May last year when all of a sudden a barrage of shells landed in the area from atop the Mushkoo valley. "Everyone ran for safety as shelling continued for about half an hour. We too left everything and ran for our lives," they said and added, ''we never dreamt of returning home again.''
"And, when we did, all that was left were dead animals and damaged crops," they said but added, "we are glad to be back in our homes."
Ghulam Ahmad, a villager of Moradabad, on the foothill of Tiger Hill said, "we could not leave our homes for two days because of continued shelling from Tiger Hill and Tololing Top. It was only after the Indian Army arrived and returned fire that we could leave our homes for safety.''
A 12th class student staying near Tololing Top recalled, "we were fast asleep when we heard deafening sounds followed by light and smoke in the air. Before we could understand what was happening, men, women and children of the entire village started running towards the main Drass Chowk crying and weeping."
She said two houses got damaged but nobody was killed or injured. "However, we lost cows, horses and other animals due to the shelling'," she added. "After that night, we lived in another village, about 30 km away, for more than 8 months as refugees,'' she said.
There were other interesting anecdotes too. Ghulam Jaffar, a school teacher said, "We used to refer to Tiger Hill as Tengel as we used to bring water from a spring there. We came to know about it being called Tiger Hill only on radio,'' he said.
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