MHA proposes compensation for J-K civilians caught in ceasefire violations

A study group constituted by the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) has recommended that the Centre compensate people whose houses and crops were damaged and cattle killed or injured during ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops along the international border (IB) and the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.

The five-member study group was set up in October 2017 to examine problems faced by people living near the international border and the LoC due to repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan. According to latest data released by the MHA, ceasefire violation by Pakistan along the LoC rose a massive 238% in 2017.

The group also recommended relocation of civilian population during ceasefire violations, construction of bunkers for civilians, self-protection trainings for local population and better watch and monitoring by security forces.

A senior home ministry official said the group has recommended that the provision for compensation under the National Disaster Relief Fund be reconstituted. While previously, families of victims killed during cross-border firing by Pakistan were compensated, the border population will now receive compensation for damages to their homes, crop and live stock.

According to the MHA data people living near LoC did not abandon their home due to ceasefire violations 2014 and 2015. But in 2016, a huge number of 27449 people fled their homes in the face of Pakistani fire. In 2017, 4012 people left their homes. People in Poonch and Rajouri have been among the worst hit.

While number of civilians killed during the violations has marginally decreased, there was a sharp increase in killings of army personnel manning the LoC.

The data was given Minister of State in MHA, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir while answering to questions in the Lok Sabha last week.

While the LoC is under the operational control of Army, the IB is manned by the Border Security Force (BSF). According to the data released by the minister, there were 771 ceasefire violations along the LoC till December 10, 2017 against 228 in 2016. Ceasefire violations were much lower in 2014 and 2015 at 153 and 152.

Ceasefire violations along IB, however, dipped to 110 according data till November. The violations in 2014 were 430 followed by 253 in 2015 and 221 in 2016.

The study group is headed by special secretary (internal security) Rina Mitra and has principal secretary (home) J&K government Raj Kumar Goyal, divisional commissioner Kashmir Bashir Ahmed Khan, divisional commissioner Jammu Dr Mandeep K Bhandari and joint secretary J&K government Gyanesh Kumar as its members.

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