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JK needs separate policy for border dwellers: Study

October 19, 2017

As border skirmishes continue to kill, maim and displace civilians in both India and Pakistan, an international NGO on Wednesday called for a “comprehensive state policy” to save the civilians in frontier areas.
The NGO, Save the Children, India, released its 87-page ‘Policy Framework for Families in the Border Areas of Jammu and Kashmir’, highlighting the border concerns and giving practical explanations.The study suggests the J&K government to form a separate policy for those living in the border areas.The study claims that the families living in border areas of J&K suffer multiple concerns as compared to those living in other border states.
“The existing Government of India Border Area Development Plan (BADP) doesn’t seem to directly address them,” it mentions.
“The harrowing tales of disaster and destruction in the J&K region and their aftermath and the absence of comprehensive feasible schemes in the national BADP for the region…necessitate the formulation of a policy for families living in the border areas of J&K,” it says.
The study delineates 14 region-specific concerns, which, it claims, are not “directly addressed” by BADP.
These include problem of landmines, cross-border shelling and firing, issue of bunkers, life in camps, problem of divided families, compensation to landmine victims, and sanctity of ceasefire.The study is based on an amalgam of primary as well as secondary data, including one-on-one interviews and case studies carried over a period of time.It asks the state government to cover five core areas of “protection, livelihood, healthcare, education and infrastructure development”, while underlining practical measures on how to implement the policy under each.
Under protection, the framework, apart from slew of other measures, suggests demining of anti-personnel mines from all areas, starting from those locations where the density of population of civilians is very high.
The study carries over a dozen anecdotes from victims who have suffered grave physical injuries in forward areas of both Kashmir and Jammu.
The only difference among the regions, as becomes apparent after skimming through the study, is that in Kashmir–where the victim anecdotes are from Kupwara and Baramulla–have majorly suffered due to stray mines and army-militant encounters.
While as in Jammu’s forward areas, the victims have suffered grave physical injuries due to firing and shelling from Pakistan.
Since September 2016, at least 34 civilians, including kids, on the Indian side and an equal number on the Pakistani side have been killed in over a 100 firing incidents, while each country blames the other for ceasefire violations.
Thousands of civilians have been forced to migrate or live in camps while the educational institutes have remained closed for months.
The worst affected areas on the Indian side include Balakot, Sabjiyan, Mandi, Bhimber Gali, and Krishna Ghati along the LoC in Poonch and Akhnoor, Suchetgarh, RS Pura, and Arnia in Jammu.

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