Dividends Of Peace For Locals Along The LoC
13 August 2005
Batalik (LoC): In this belt of high barren rocky peaks which shot into international limelight during the infamous Kargil war in 1999, the peace prevailing along the Line of Control has changed the entire course of civilian life here. The forward belt of Kargil, particularly the Batalik sector which has an ethnic mix of Balti, Shinna and Purig speaking areas, has been the direct victim of shelling from across the Line of Control for several decades and this was the prime reason for the poor civilian infrastructure existing in this belt. The foremost sign of return to normality, now seen along the belt, is the normal functioning of the primary schools located close to the Line of Control which were in the shelling range. The classes, which were earlier held in the underground bunkers in a suffocated environment, are now being conducted in the open. Teachers, who played truant citing various reasons, are being regular, says Ghulam Ali, a resident of Kaksar village. In the past shelling in this zone was a day and night feature as the damaged school buildings bear witness. This is reflected in one of the lowest literacy rates (40.6 per cent) here in the State. Inderjeet Singh, an instructor in the a government primary school, says, 'Even though we still do not have a good infrastructure the educational standard of the schools has improved and the pass percentage of the students has gone up. Two years ago, the pass percentage in the school was 30 per cent and now it is 75per cent. The main reason is regular classes.' The Kargil war may have brought these little known remote areas into international limelight only in 1999, but shelling in this area was a routine feature for several decades. Incensed shelling zone This was the most incensed shelling zone and the destruction brought about can be seen everywhere. Life used to come to a standstill after 5 p.m. The shelling was targeted at various villages such as Karkit, Kaksar, Lattu, Hundurman. But the continuing ceasefire announced in November, 2003, is changing the local economy for the better. This belt is one of the few fertile areas of cold desert Kargil running along the Indus river. The Indus river, prime source of irrigation for the local farmers, flows into Northern areas six km from here. This year there has been a good produce of high quality apricot, one of the famous fruits grown here. This is a major source of livelihood for the local people.