By: Sameer Showkin Lone
Gurez: The ceasefire announced early this year by India and Pakistan across the Line of Control (LoC) is not less than Aazadi (freedom) for the people of a dozen villages living in the Gurez sector of Kashmir Valley.
The people living in Tulail Valley and Chorwan and its adjoining villages say they feel like freedom since the ceasefire was put into operation between the armies of India and Pakistan who are sitting eyeball to eyeball along the Line of Control that divides Jammu and Kashmir into two parts.
In a surprising but significant move, the Indian and Pakistani armies on February 25 this year announced that they would cease firing across the LoC while recommitting themselves to a 2003 ceasefire agreement.
Mohammad Akram, a construction labourer said ever since the recent ceasefire his village is in peace. “There is no threat of any shelling now. Even If I am out of home for work, I feel relaxed. It was not the case months ago. The firing would destroy our houses, cattle and above all a mental peace. Now we are like Aazaad. It is obviously not less than a freedom for us,” he told Precious Kashmir.
Pointing towards another village located on the side of Habba Khatoon mountain, across a fast flowing tributary of river Kisheganga Akram said that village was completely destroyed in a shelling.
“I don’t remember the exact date but the village was completely rehabilitated. You can see the new houses made of wood. It suffered massive damage,” he said.
The Chorwan village is the last village from Indian in Gurez and was a key place on the erstwhile silk route. At the end of the village is the Forward Post (name withheld for security reasons) of Indian Army.
Because of the successful ceasefire, the locals say that they go into the forests for the collection of firewood and other works without any fear. “We have to keep a huge stock of firewood for the winters which is almost six months here. The snowfall averages between 4-5 feet in our area. So firewood collection is our main survival during winters,” said Zooni Begum, an elderly lady who was carrying firewood on her head to keep stock.
The soldiers posted on the Line of Control are also of the view that the Ceasefire must remain in place and respected for the larger good of the people living in the border areas.