Underground community bunkers have become second home for the border residents in RS Pura sector trying to save their lives in the face of relentless ceasefire violations by Pakistani Rangers along the International Border.
After spending all his lifelong savings, Nagar Singh, 60, constructed a house in Abdullian village which is a stone's throw away from the International Border, but he along with his family has spent more time in the bunkers than in his own house.
“After spending all the savings of my life I recently completed the construction of this house, but due to the continuous ceasefire violations from across the border, my family and I have spent more time in the bunkers than our house,” Singh said.
The bullet marks and the big holes created by the mortar shells in the house of Nagar Singh stand a testimony of what the border residents like him have to go through whenever there is a ceasefire violation from the Pakistani side.
“Bombs and bullets rain on our houses...several houses and standing structures have been damaged due to the Pakistani shelling on our houses. We are alive only because of these border bunkers,” said Shamsher Singh Chib, a resident of Korotana Khurd village that has been bearing the brunt of the recent ceasefire violations.
The government has constructed over 43 community bunkers in Jammu district whereas 47 more are under construction.
“In RS Pura sector we have over 30 community bunkers and in Jammu district alone 43 such bunkers are ready and the construction work on 47 is going on,” Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Simrandeep Singh said.
He said that one community bunker can accommodate 20 persons at a time and such bunkers have been instrumental in saving several innocent lives during the periods of heavy ceasefire violations from across the border.
The decision to construct the community bunkers was taken by the Union government in December last year.
Six-year-old Vicky Kumar, a native of Bihar, lost his life when after spending the night with his family in a bunker he had come out to play in the open.
“The family spent the entire night in the bunker and when Vicky Kumar came out to play, the shell hit him killing him,” the DC said.
Jammu and Kashmir government has submitted a proposal to the Centre for setting up of over 20,000 bunkers at a cost of over Rs 1,000 crore in 448 border areas in the state.
‘The revised proposal for construction of 20,125 community bunkers at an estimated cost of Rs 1006.25 crore in 448 identified border villages in the state has been sent to the government of India,’ the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had said in Jammu and Kashmir assembly.
The proposal will cover a population of 4,02,455 close to the border areas in districts of Kathua, Samba, Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch, he had said, adding the proposal has been sent to Government of India on February 23, 2015 for consideration.
Border residents say the community bunkers have become a second home for them, which helps them save their family members from the cross border firing.
“These bunkers have become a second home for them, it is because of these bunkers that we are alive today and talking to you,” Jagan Lal, a resident of RS Pura said.
IMAGE: Jammu and Kashmir DSP inspecting the damage caused by shelling from across the Line of Control in Vidipur Jatta village of RS Pura sector, about 27km from Jammu. Photograph: PTI Photo