Jammu’s border villages vote for peace

December 24th, 2008 - 2:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Suchetgarh (Jammu and Kashmir), Dec 24 (IANS) It was a heartfelt vote for peace for people living in the border villages of Jammu and Kashmir’s Jammu region who Wednesday turned up in large numbers to cast their ballot, in an election being held amid increasing tensions between India and Pakistan.Despite the fog and the chill, long queues began forming from early in the morning at many villages in the Ranbir Singhpora, Samba and Suchetgarh and Akhnoor sectors - covering a stretch of over 80 km of the 198 km international border with Pakistan.

Voter after voter in Suchetgarh, for instance, 40 km from Jammu, said they were voting for keeping peace on the borders.

“We do want strong action against terrorists, but that should not be at our cost,” Ujjagar Singh, a resident of the border village of Satrian, told IANS.

They have heard about the Indian government’s moves to punish Pakistan for allowing terrorists to use its soil to mount attacks on India, particularly the Nov 26-29 terror strike in Mumbai. And are afraid that the armies would once again move to the borders, dislocating them from their homes.

It has happened earlier.

Immediately after the December 2001 terror attack on the Indian parliament, villagers in the area saw their homes become battle zones with tanks parked in their fields and guns pointed towards Pakistan as troops took up positions.

“Our vote should help people understand the importance of peace on our borders. Catch terrorists, hang them, but don’t cause tensions on borders. Wars have not brought any solution,” said Madan Lal of Saler village.

The border residents, who have witnessed their mud houses perforated by bullets and mortar shells as troops exchanged fire, heaved a sigh of relief when Indian and Pakistani armies declared a ceasefire in November 2003.

“We want our candidates who get elected to press upon the government not to disturb peace. That’s all what we want,” said Kulbir Singh, a farmer, as he moved towards a polling booth in Suchetgarh.

As Jammu and Kashmir votes in the seventh and last round of elections in preparation for a new government, that is a desire being echoed all through.

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