“For all those who sleep tonight perhaps forget that there are thousands who stay awake at the risk of their own lives making a new dawn possible every single day”
It’s like a shower of bullets, mortars and artillery shelling all the time. It is regarded as one of the most dangerous places to be in. All you can hear is the sound of the silence. 545 ceasefire violations and 2, 000 militants ready to sneak in to destabilize the country of billions. That’s LOC, The Line of Control. It is Asia’s Berlin Wall that is the de facto border between India and Pakistan, spread across Gilgit-Baltistan to Dras.
Across jungles and mountains, plains and rivers, stretches a line 740 Km separating two nuclear powers, India and Pakistan. The treacherous front-line starts from the plains and weaning its way into the hills and jungle terrain, ending at snowy heights of a glacier. LOC divides Kashmir into two parts along the Jhelum Valley route.
LOC starts from the city of Jammu till Poonch and then from Uri to Keran, where the terrain ranges until the start of high altitude mountains of Kargil and finally ends at Siachen Valley Glacier.
Line of Control was originally called as cease-fire line by United Nations until India and Pakistan signed a ceasefire agreement under the Shimla Agreement of 1972. The agreement was signed in aftermath of the Indo-Pak War of 1972 by the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi and President of Pakistan, Z.A. Bhutto. Both sides agreed to respect and recognize the position of either side by refraining themselves to use force in violation of this line. But the matter of fact is that thousands of ceasefire violations had since taken place , eating the lives of nearly 18, 000 people from both the countries.
LOC is the world’s heaviest militarized area with over 3 Lakh Indian Soldiers (Approximately as none knows the real number) and one lakh Pakistani army personnel posted here. The fence is patrolled 24 hours where the night patrols are especially strenuous, almost a mind game, because the brain needs to be alert even if the leaf so much as rustles.
When there is an apprehension of intrusion, a movement detected but not verified by other systems like thermal imaging, mortars are deployed to illuminate the area. These few seconds of available light could be used if there is an actual violation of territory to hit the target with rocket launchers and machine guns. Such is the level of vigilance and high tension at the LOC.
The honour of the line was breached heavily during 1999 when militants and regular soldiers supported by Pakistani Army infiltrated the Kargil and Dras sectors of Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir. India had to launch Operation Vijay to recapture Kargil. Nearly 530 Indian soldiers and 3000 Pakistani regulars were martyred during the operations.
The Planet will no longer be blue anymore
It’s an irony that people belonging to same faith, culture and identity are separated by a stupid line. LOC not only divides a piece of land but at the same time it separates the essence of Kashmiriyat that existed prior to 1947. Both the countries spend billions of dollars to counter each other at the LOC when millions starve due to hunger. God forbid if another war takes place at the LOC, the impact would be so huge that the Planet will no longer be blue.
How long we can afford it?
You will be shocked to hear that India’s one day expenditure at the LOC accounts to almost 400 plus crore (unofficial figure). Some believe it to be 600 plus crore. Government of India has increased its defence expenditure to about $36 Billion for the year 2014. And Pakistan spends $7 Billion annually on its defence requirement. The big question arises that should a country with 21.6% population below the poverty line spend such amount to buy arms? The scenario is even worst with economically crashed Pakistan.
Line of Control is not just another border where bullets are exchanged between the two rival nations but it’s a place where every second life fights with death. Always remember that for our tomorrow, they gave up their today so that we can live in a free air. Next time if we breathe in, let us not forget that our brothers are standing at 22, 000 feet above the sea level and minus 60 degree temperature with limited supply of oxygen only to safeguard us.
Also read our blog: Ten Impossible Places Possible for the Indian Armed Forces