Reyaz Rashid

Uri residents demand underground bunkers in view of heightened border tensions 

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Baramulla: Frequent border skimmirishes between India and Pakistan armies and exchange of gunfire, shellings in Uri sector of north Kashmir forced the residents to stage protest in Uri town on Tuesday demanding  construction of underground bunkers for their safety.

The residents shouted slogans in support of their demands  of construction of underground  bunkers and alternative land promised to them for their residence stating that they were being sandwiched between the two conflicting armies.

The residents of Kamalkote, Salikote, Churanda, Balkote, Maorthal, Dardkote, Ishem, Gowalta, Sultandaki, Gowhaln,Thaljal, Chotale,Mayan and other frontier village participated in the protest.

Lal Din of Churanda Uri, while talking to the reporter, said that the residents have raised the demand for bunkers time and again but there was a cold response from the government. He claimed that the Government of India had already provided bunkers to residents living along the LoC in Jammu region.
“They are not paying any attention to the demands of residents of Uri and north Kashmir frontier sectors,  who have been affected badly in the past as well due to cross-border shelling,” he said.

Dr. Sajad Shafi of National Conference said that the border tensions had already panicked people in Kamalkot and other areas and several families had been shifted the makeshift camp set up at Uri in Government Higher Secondary school Uri.

“ Few residential houses were damaged in the recent mortar shelling  from across the border. Fortunately, the families escaped unhurt,” he said.

The proterstors took out a rally and marched from main town to SDM office Uri and submitted a memorandum in SDM office for Governor Administration demanding immediate construction of bunkers. After registering their demands, they called off the protest peacefully.

Similar demands have been made by the residents of Machil, Karna, Kupwara and Gurez also demand in the wake of heightened border tensions.

Meanwhile, Peoples Conference senior leader and Parliamentary candidate from Baramulla, Raja Aijaz Ali has blamed the administration for discrimination against the people of Uri and urged the Governor to immediately sanction funds for construction of bunkers for residents living along the LoC in Uri sub division.
While welcoming sanctioning of additional bunkers in Rajouri and Poonch, he  appealed the Governor to sanction more bunkers for Uri sector stating that the residents along the LoC in Uri were  living in constant fear. “They have no option but to run for safe shelter. People have suffered injuries and loss of property amid intense firing and motor shelling. The Governor must ensure availability of sufficient funds to district administration for construction of additional bunkers in Uri.”

In January, the Centre had sanctioned construction of 14,460 individual and community bunkers at a cost of Rs 415.73 crore for people living along the LoC and International Border in Jammu division.

According to official figures, 7,298 bunkers would be constructed along the LoC in the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri, while 7,162 underground bunkers would be constructed along the IB in Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts.

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