More Poonch families migrate to PoK
28 June 2000
The Times of India
Dwarika Prasad Sharma
Jammu: Another 37 persons belonging to seven families have made a midnight migration to the PoK from Poonch district. The second midnight migration into PoK from the district over three days, it occurred from Kinari village under the Mandi police station on the intervening night of June 25-26, despite ''civic action'' launched by Army and civil authorities to ''educate'' the border people against Pakistani propaganda. In the earlier migration, 260 persons belonging to 37 families kept Tarkundi village under the Mandhar police station on the intervening night of June 23-24. This was the first-time that the entire population of a village had shifted to PoK, though there have occasionally been reports of smaller shifts and then return back home with stories of a ''humiliating, sub-human experience'' on the other side. The two migrations have already become grist in the Pakistani propaganda mill, and its electronic media are calling it an offshoot of the ''atrocities'' allegedly being ''perpetrated by the Indian security forces on the freedom-living local people''. Since late 1996, Pakistan has been making a concerted effort to make Poonch and Rajouri as militancy''s red spots. Earlier, such attempts had failed as people of the two districts, with a sizable Gujjar-Bakerwal population, had resisted being sucked into the militancy. But in 1990-91, there indeed had been small migrations from border villages when the Pakistani propaganda machinery held out to them promises of a fat honorarium, plenty of food and comfortable shelter. In order to highlight the Pakistani ''prosperity'', some border villages in PoK used to be lit up at night to try to show how electricity had been taken to the ''remotest corners''. But the families that were allured soon returned with tales of how they were driven to slavery after initial hospitality and that the border lighting show was set up with the help of generators, while hardly any village even in deep interior had any electricity. The Pakistanis are said to have often made use of loudspeakers to try to lure the villagers. But in Kinari and Tarkundi villages, ''internal motivation'' was apparently used, more specifically, hard cash, with promise of more. The villages, especially Tarkundi, fall on the route of militants who have stepped up infiltration bids under Pakistani''s plan to intensify militancy all over Jammu. People of adjoining villages say the migration is on account of the ''demands for shelter'' of militants and consequent crackdown of the security forces, with ''constant searches and questioning''. One source said, the migration could be connected to the ISI bid to raise local recruits and the few roped in from these villages might have motivated others. After initial failure with the local people, the Pakistanis had pumped in foreign mercenaries. Now it is again going all out to raise local recruits to project the militancy as local insurgency. It is, however, believed that the migrants would soon return as they know they would be welcomed back. Tarkundi has already known such going and coming back of the natives.