With no let-up in mortar shelling from Pakistan for nearly a week, over a dozen villages along the International Border in R S Pura and Arnia sectors almost turned into ghost villages Thursday with nearly 90 per cent of their residents moving to safer places along with their cattle.
“What is the option when mortar bombs fall on your houses,’’ asked Romesh Lal (45), who along with his two brothers had already shifted their extended family of 16 people from Abdullian village to R S Pura town. The family returned briefly Thursday to take their cattle along. In August, Romesh had lost his younger brother, Pawan, in mortar shelling. His father, Ajeet Singh (85), had lost his arm after getting injured in shelling from across the border. While the family spent more than Rs 3 lakh on Ajeet’s treatment, they only received Rs 75,000 ex-gratia, as fixed by the government for the seriously injured.
With the residential population located less than 500 metre from the zero line, the government had got a community bunker constructed in Abdullian for the villagers. “It can at any given time accommodate maximum of 25-30 people, while the village has a population of nearly 400,’’ said Abdullian resident Ashok Kumar, who lost three buffaloes in Pakistani mortar shelling Tuesday.
In adjoining Chandu Chak village, most homes were locked with nearly 140 families having migrated to safer places. “I have spent most of my hard earned money in constructing and reconstructing this house,’’ said Rachpal Singh, on whose rooftop a mortar shell had created a big crater.
Similarly, most people from various other villages in R S Pura tehsil like Korotana, Vidhipur, Suchetgarh, Jora Farm, Gharana, Khurd, Flora also moved out of their native places. In Arnia, villages like Treva, Jabbowal, Nikkowal, Sai among others, were almost deserted.