File photo of Indian Army personnel in Kashmir. Photograph:( Reuters )
'This violence is never going to end... we are trapped in between,' says Haveli Lal Lambardar residents of of Suchet Garh in Jammu's RS Pura. Over a decade ago, he lost his daughter to cross-border shelling.
As the tension between India and Pakistan continues to simmer, it is the villagers caught between the two neighbours who suffer.
Since the Indian Air Force's air strike on Balakot, 35-year-old Madan Lal has been worried about the safety of his two children. His eyes and ears have been transfixed on the television ever since the strike, as have those of the other villagers.
Together they keep a constant vigil, on the TV and the skies above their heads.
Their village of Suchet Garh, the last before the border with Pakistan in Jammu's RS Pura sector, is on high alert. And with good reason, for every time there is disquiet on the border, they are the ones who pay the price.
The last time, in May 2018, they were asked to leave their homes and move to a safer location. (Villages on the Pakistani side of the border have already been evacuated by the Pakistani Army.)
“We are living a life of nomads with unpredictable shelling in the village on continuous occasions, we flee to nearby villages or the Jammu city when we are warned to cross firing or shelling. Pakistanis won’t spare us even on the festivals such as Holi and Diwali. Many have fled on the Pakistani side of the border. We don’t hear the daily sound of azaan coming from their mosques after the tensions have risen between the countries,” said Madan Lal.
In his late eighties, Haveli Lal Lambardar sounds a word of caution. Looking back at history, he says, Pakistan has always attacked India first. Haveli Lal lost his daughter to cross-border shelling over a decade ago.
But that doesn't mean he's leaving.
“This violence is never going to end. The governments and forces of both sides are undertaking their roles, but we are the ones who are trapped in between. There are many who have lost their families in the crossfire, but we are not going to leave our village,” he says.
Suchet Garh is surrounded by Pakistan on three sides. And as the tension between India and Pakistan continues to simmer, the villagers' fear and anxiety also rise. That fear is exacerbated in this age of nuclear weapons.
Everybody in the village then desires a solution without war.