Line of Conflict: 38 civilian bunkers to be commissioned next month in Uri

Remains of an exploded mortar along a street at Kamal Kote village near the Line of Control (LOC) at Uri on Nov 14, 2020 - Photo: KM/Tauseef Mustafa

Srinagar: Seemingly rattled by civilian fatalities, Jammu and Kashmir government has fast-tracked construction of underground community bunkers to save the civilian population from shelling during ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Uri sector.

More than 38 bunkers are being commissioned in the Uri sector next month. This is in addition to 20 bunkers already commissioned in the sector. More than 36 villages living along the LOC will be covered under this project.

“We have 20 community bunkers in the district. Ministry of Home Affairs has approved 44 bunkers. Two months before, work started on 38 bunkers and we hope to complete it by next month,” Dr. GN Ittoo, deputy commissioner, Baramulla, told The Kashmir Monitor.

Fear has gripped the people living in the border villages after the recent flare-up left nine people including four civilians dead along the LoC in North Kashmir. From Poonch to Uri and from Gurez to Keran, the entire Line of Control witnessed a heavy artillery duel on November 13.

“Since the bunkers are to be constructed at very high altitude areas, we were not getting a response to our tenders. We had to invite one tender six times because there was no response. Transporting construction material to high altitude areas is a bit problematic,” said Dr. Ittoo.

Deputy Commissioner exuded hope that the work on the six left out bunkers will also start soon. “I am taking a meeting today to fix this issue,” he said.

Each underground bunker will accommodate 40 people. The design and layout of bunkers have been made in such a manner that they will withstand the shells. The highlight of bunkers will be the double RCC slab which will be covered with five feet of sand and mud so that the shells do not penetrate inside.

Jammu and Kashmir government has also sent a proposal for constructing 250 individual bunkers in the Uri sector. Sources said an individual bunker is meant for the households and can accommodate eight to 10 people. 

“We have sent a second proposal for 250 individual bunkers. We hope that there will be an approval soon,” said Dr. Ittoo.

Block Development Council (BDC) chairman, Uri, Mohammad Rafiq Blote said most of the fatalities occur because people have no place to hide during the shelling.  “We have been demanding bunkers for long. Had there been bunkers, there would not have been fatalities last week”, he said.

Official figures reveal that there have been 3,186 incidents of ceasefire violations (CFV) along the Line of Control (LoC) till September 7 this year. In addition, 242 incidents of cross-border firing have occurred along the International Border (IB) in the Jammu region till August 31.

Data reveal that there have been 3,289 ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army along the Indo-Pak border in 2019. In 2018, Jammu and Kashmir had recorded 2,936 instances of ceasefire violations by Pakistan with an average of eight cases daily, in which 61 people were killed and over 250 injured.

The number of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops was three times more than that of 2017 when 971 cases were reported. In 2017, 31 people — 12 civilians and 19 security forces personnel — were killed and 151 others suffered injuries.

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