Last year saw a surge in LoC fireworks amid LAC standoff, keeping life on the cutting edge on tenterhooks.
Before snow transiently silenced guns at the Line of Control (LoC), the belligerent nuke-loaded neighbours were at it again — shelling over the bodies of Kashmiris.
Last summer, the frontier fireworks were full of spark and stream. Shells landed as far as near the Kupwara town. As homes rose up in flames and a desperate run for life ensued, a viral image of a mother lapping her dead son became the tragic face of the escalation.
By November, the northern belts of Kashmir—known for the ‘infiltration bids’ and ‘smoky’ gunfights—were rained with bombs, littering the LoC hamlets with bodies and blasted homes. A screaming melee captured on camera apparently made these serene frontline settlements—shadowed by guns—as some war-torn towns.
But as New Delhi is reportedly adhering to its “offensive-defence” policy, it’s believed that the otherwise weary frontiers of Kashmir are only going to lose their calm once the snow melts.
Amid Ladakh standoff last year, the Indo-Pak ‘border belligerence’ did fleetingly threaten situation in the “most sensitive region” of South Asia.
With lurking Dragon making no bones about its Ladakh manoeuvres, the nonstop LoC firing only made many believe that the “iron brothers” have opened the two-front war against New Delhi.
Both Islamabad and Beijing had objected the “unilateral” decision by Modi government to “alter the status of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir” on August 5, 2019. With the abrogation of the semi-autonomous status of the erstwhile state, the union territory status to Ladakh was seen as an opening—if not provocation—for China.
The Indian side not only bled in the faceoff, but had to accumulate war-stores along with the special commandos to counter China’s LAC advances during the frozen winters. Even the fair-weather Zoji La route has been kept open to keep the otherwise six-month-long frozen highway open. This war-monitoring of sorts is reportedly draining Delhi on a daily basis.
Amid all this, the blazing guns only took a huge toll on the LoC residents, some of whom lost their homes in the shelling. In a war-like situation, many abandoned the affected zones in droves. Even as locals were advised to stay away till the uneasy calm returns on the frontiers, they vainly reiterated their bunker demand.
Often time when they return home from relief camps, they find their lives torn asunder in the bombing. Among other things, the shells consume their cattle, often seen matted and littered inside the shell-shattered sheds.
The government as usual announces some routine relief packages. But this post-trauma treatment is unlikely to bring relief to the countless lives – otherwise taking so much time to rebuild their lives, only to abandon and left it to shatter whenever frontlines flare-up.
New Delhi holds Pak Rangers responsible for the frequent frontier fireworks, while Islamabad blames the Indian side for escalations. The explosive situation last year only breached the Ceasefire Agreement between the two hostile neighbours.
The resounding LoC made much political noise. As ambulances ferried injured to hospitals, the opposition parties demanded answers from the NDA government. The former alliance partner of BJP in J&K’s disintegrated “unholy alliance”, Peoples Democratic Party stuck to its traditional stand seeking reconciliation with Pakistan.
The party whose patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed would thank Pakistan apart from separatists and militants after floating coalition government with BJP in 2015 had always maintained that “we can change friends, not neighbours.”
But the ruling BJP and its local leaders want to change that by taking the war back to Pakistan’s backyard.
In the competing political cries, the LoC fireworks have made many in Srinagar and New Delhi believe that Pakistan is apparently pushing India on war. While such readings of the frontline situation look more of rhetoric than some credible war forecast, the larger feeling remains that New Delhi’s “Naya Kashmir” roadmap, along with its interest and investment in Islamabad’s “strategic depth” is provoking the frontier firepower.
With Uncle Sam gradually packing its bags and leaving Afghanistan, the ‘great game’ has only deepened the rivalry of the pugnacious twain—threatening to lit the nuke fuse in South Asia.
For Delhi, the blazing guns at hinterland and the rising ranks in the heartland have busted the so-called Kashmir Normalisation Project. The narrative sold to millions as a poll-talk has now started running its own course. With the entry of Beijing, experts are calling for a review of Delhi’s Kashmir experiments done in the name of dissent management.
But as the ruling party is talking tough, the LoC hostility, it seems, is only going to hold life hostage. If at all such ritualistic—yet mortal—fireworks escalate and go out of hand in 2021, then many fear a larger run for life in the region.
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