Srinagar, Feb 4: Expressing deep shock and grief over the death of a civilian in mortar shelling along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir’s Kupwara district, former Finance Minister Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Tuesday appealed the Centre to sanction funds for immediate construction of underground bunkers in forward areas where bunkers have not been constructed.
In a statement issued, Bukhari while echoing the concerns of former Legislators Raja Manzoor Khan and Javed Ahmad Mirchal, expressed solidarity with the bereaved family of Saleem Ahmed, a 60-year-old civilian, who was killed in the Tadd village of the Karnah sector in Kupwara district on Monday evening.
The former Legislators, while expressing sympathies to the family of another civilian who sustained injury in the incident, prayed for his early recovery. “It is unfortunate that there is no letup in shelling even during the winters, causing more worries to the civilian population living in the border areas of Jammu and Kashmir,” they remarked.
Referring to a Defence Ministry report indicating an increase in the incidents of ceasefire violations along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir since August 2019, Bukhari said that in view of the heightened cross-border shelling, the Centre must sanction and order speedy construction of concrete, underground bunkers for all the left out border areas in the Union Territory, especially in Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora districts.
He said that the bunkers have been found to be an effective response to cross-LoC shelling, providing the residents a safe place to save themselves during the shelling incidents.
“The residents of border/LoC areas of Jammu and Kashmir have been the worst victims of hostilities on the India-Pakistan border and along LoC. So all of them should be treated equitably without any feel of discrimination vis-a-vis measures taken for their safety and security,” said the former finance minister.
He added that amid escalated tensions between India and Pakistan, it is incumbent upon the Government of India to provide safe shelters to its citizens, especially living in the border areas.
“People living near the LoC in Kupwara, Baramulla and Bandipora districts and their fellow citizens living in border areas of Jammu province live in constant fear and agony. They have no option, but to run for safe shelter. People have suffered injuries and loss of property amid intense firing and mortar shelling. The Ministry of Home Affairs in Government of India must ensure availability of sufficient funds to district administration for construction of additional bunkers in the left out areas,” Bukhari demanded.
He urged the Union Home Minister to sanction the requisite funds for the construction of underground bunkers for the left out areas in Teetwal, Tanghdar, Keran in the Kupwara district, Gurez area of Bandipora district and various places in Baramulla districts.