Jammu, Nov 1: Union Health Minister and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Friday said that despite all the peace initiatives taken by India with Pakistan, its army was vitiating the environment.
He was referring to the repeated violations of the November 2003 bilateral ceasefire between India and Pakistan by the Pakistan Army on the borders of Jammu and Kashmir.
“In spite of various confidence building initiatives by India to restore peace in the region, incidents of unprovoked firing on the border reveal the nefarious designs of the Pakistan Army to derail the peace process,” Azad said while interacting with residents of border villages in the Jammu region Friday.
Azad conducted an extensive tour of the border areas of Akhnoor, Bishnah and RS Pura sectors of the international border to take stock of the problems of the people affected by firing from Pakistan.
Azad interacted with the villagers of Chatta Gujral in Pargwal.
When some of them asked for at least five marlas of land at safer places so that they could move away from their villages to escape the brunt of repeated firing, the minister said he would take up the matter with the state and central governments.
He said lands would be identified to accommodate the people of the border villages in safer areas in case of an emergency.
Villagers also demanded compensation for damage to crops in the wake of the continuous firing; many villagers complained that although crops had ripened, they were not able to reap them because of repeated firing.
Residents of villages close to the international border demanded reservation facilities in education and employment for their upliftment; they also said that students should be compensated for falling behind in their studies.
They villagers also urged the minister to organise special recruitment drives in their areas for the army and paramilitary forces, so unemployed youth in the area could take part in them.
Azad said people living on the borders have shown immense courage, and the entire nation stands with them in these troubled times. He said they had stood guardian to the borders, and their contributions are significant.
He assured the villagers that their demands would be taken up on priority.
When Azad visited the Pindi Charkan Kalna village in Bishnah and the Abdullian village in R.S. Pura sector, people told him that although their villages were located on zero line, they have not been given any special status.
They apprised the minister of inadequate health care facilities and shortage of medicines in the primary health care centres, which are ill equipped to cater to an emergency situation.
Villagers also demanded adequate compensation for the deceased and those injured during the firing by Pakistan troops.