India Building Bunkers But Not a Platform For Dialogue With Pakistan: Voice From Kashmir

India seems to be in a ‘warring mood’ as it continues to build bunkers for families along the border that it shares with Pakistan in the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Following Indian Air Force’s (IAF) pre-emptive action in the early hours of February 26, there has been an escalation of aggression both the sides. The Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again urged for dialogue, however, India hasn’t accepted, so far!

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And this has created panic among the people living in the border areas especially Rajouri and Poonch. According to Thomson Reuters Foundation, the new shelters were planned before IAF’s pre-emptive action. The shelters are supposed to reduce fear and prevent people from fleeing when shelling starts.

There have been frequent exchanges of fire from both sides but there has been a ‘marked escalation’ since Tuesday. Villages living in the border area are scared for their lives. They are tired of running whenever the situation takes a nasty turn. The villagers say they have had to pay a heavy price in terms of family members, livestock and crops to the border turmoil.

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The construction of the ‘bunkers’ began in ‘June of 2018’ as relations between India and Pakistan worsened. The works would amount to a total of $60 million as government engineers work on the underground steel and concrete structures. “Hundreds of underground bunkers, with their walls and roofs three times the thickness of a regular house and consuming 10 times as much steel, have already been built,” says state government officials and contractors.

An engineer, with the J&K public works department, said the bunkers can withstand simple shelling. The bunkers have been constructed either next to the people’s houses or on farmland and some are also waterlogged. Now with a continuous exchange of fire and fighter jets buzzing in the skies, the villages stay in the bunkers contemplating their lives and the escalating situation.

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