Bearing the maximum brunt of shelling by Pakistani troops, this border village in Samba district with around 1,700 voters today vented their pent-up anger and decided not to allow any politician to enter the village.
“They be ministers, MLAs or other leaders, we will not allow them enter our village. The politicians have turned a blind eye to our sufferings… We will boycott the next elections,” said a group of angry villagers. The elderly residents claimed that never before had Mawa witnessed such destruction. “Such damage was not seen here even during the 1971 India-Pakistan war,” a resident said.
Pawan Sharma (45) said last night the village was rattled by mortar shells from across the border. “It is the first time that our village is being targeted so fiercely. It appears as if someone on this side is passing on information to our enemies that we were safe so far,” he said.
Septuagenarian Ratno Devi, too, was acerbic in her reaction: “We can’t harvest paddy because of the fear of getting killed in enemy firing. We lack ambulances to shift the injured to hospitals and there are no bunkers to take refuge in during shelling… Everyone here is at the God’s mercy.” Ratno Devi regretted that politicians simply used them as vote bank during elections, only to be forgotten once the electoral process was over.
Asha Rani, a housewife, quoted an instance of “brazen administrative inertia”: “The Samba Deputy Commissioner had assured us of providing a vehicle, which was to be kept on stand-by and used during emergency…. The wait for the vehicle continues. After Kailasho Devi (a resident) was critically injured in a mortar blast last night, we had to call up the police who arranged a vehicle within two hours.”
Another resident, Gulzar Singh, said the village had around 400 families with over 1,700 registered voters, which could be a cause for concern for politicians.
“A whirlwind tour by a minister and MLAs handing over a few thousand rupees as relief for a photo-session doesn’t mean their duty is over. Ours is a serious problem, which needs to be dealt with on a priority… There should be no space for administrative inertia,” he said.