80-year-old Parkasho Devi has witnessed every conflict between India and Pakistan along the border here but feels that latest onslaught from the neighbouring country has been unprecedented as even at the peak of hostilities civilian areas were not targeted as they were being now.
Parkasho has been a resident of Mahasha Kote village, situated next to International Border in the Arnia sub-sector, since the time the IB came into existence.
“In 1947, the war was fought using swords. I was very young at that time but I saw our brave men fighting the enemy at the border using swords,” Parkasho told a news agency.
Arnia sub-sector in RS Pura sector is one of the worst hit areas of the recent spurt in ceasefire violations from the Pakistani side. Five people lost their lives and 34 others were wounded in Arnia alone when Pakistan side resorted to unprovoked firing on Sunday night.
“Even at the peak of hostilities between the two nations when full scale wars were being fought, the civilian population was never attacked. But this time, I don’t know how they attacked innocent villagers,” Parkasho, who along with 17 family members has been staying at a government-run relief camp in Bishna following the recent ceasefire violation, said. Parkasho says she feels sad for her neighbour Bamroo Devi, who lost four members of her family in the shelling.
“There had been some celebrations in their house and we had spent the evening with them. Some of her (Bamroo Devi’s) close relatives were sleeping in the yard while some on the terrace when the shelling started,” Parkasho said.
She said before they could escape a mortar shell hit their house, in which four of them died on the spot and several others were injured.
“Within few hours they (Pakistani Army) converted celebration into mourning. Even if we return to our villages, life will never be the same for any of us,” she said.
Parkasho said there were hundreds of people like her who had abandoned their houses to take shelter at government-run relief camps in the nearby areas.
The villagers at her relief camp say they will rebuild their damaged houses and re-establish their lost businesses, but the scars of the recent shelling might never fade.
“Damaged houses can be rebuilt, but we will never be able to get back the people we lost. Even the scars on our bodies would heal, but the scars on our memories would remain forever,” Parkasho said.
The residents of the frontier areas said they were fed up of the frequent firing from across the border and want the state and the central government to take measures for their permanent rehabilitation to a safer area.