Border lines

Three charts show how it is always a state of perpetual war on the Indo-Pak border

Reports suggest Indo-Pak relations have never been worse, but people on either side of the LoC – and indeed, the international border – live in an uneasy truce.

The Indian Army has said that cross-border fire from Pakistan on Sunday killed two Indian soldiers, wounded four people, including a Border Security Force officer and a woman, along the Line of Control in Krishna Ghati and Poonch sectors of Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir, violating the ceasefire.

Another report tallied the total number of deaths as result of cross-border firing and shelling, in the past fortnight, at 20 people, including children.

On Friday, November 4, PTI quoted a senior official of the Indian Army as claiming that Pakistan had violated ceasefire along the Line of Control, in Jammu and Kashmir, 99 times, since India conducted surgical strikes on alleged terror launchpads on September 29.

As a result of the heavy fire, nearly 400 schools had been closed down to avoid further civilian casualties in Jammu and Kashmir,

Indian volunteers and officials carry two-and-a half-year-old Pari into the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu on November 1, after he was injured in cross-border shelling. Credit: STR/AFP
Indian volunteers and officials carry two-and-a half-year-old Pari into the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu on November 1, after he was injured in cross-border shelling. Credit: STR/AFP

The ceasefire violation on November 1, which occurred in five different sectors along the LoC as well as the International Border, claimed the lives of 8 civilians.

Homes in the Gajansoo border village were damaged in cross-border firing in the Kanachak sector, about 25km from Jammu, on October 24.  Credit: AFP
Homes in the Gajansoo border village were damaged in cross-border firing in the Kanachak sector, about 25km from Jammu, on October 24. Credit: AFP

Meanwhile in Pakistan, three men and a woman were reported to have been killed by Indian firing on November 1, while six others were hospitalised with wounds, according to Nakyal sector’s Assistant Commissioner, Sardar Zeeshan Nisar.

“Since the shelling is continuing, we are unable to instantly collect all details and I am afraid there may be more casualties,” Nisar said.

Pakistani villagers pose for a photograph alongside a bullet-riddled wall of their home following mortar shelling by the Indian Border Security Force in Chaprar village along the Sialkot Working Boundary on October 25. Credit: Abid Hussain Mehdi/AFP
Pakistani villagers pose for a photograph alongside a bullet-riddled wall of their home following mortar shelling by the Indian Border Security Force in Chaprar village along the Sialkot Working Boundary on October 25. Credit: Abid Hussain Mehdi/AFP

The report also described other collateral damage along the border villages of Pakistan, in the villages of Bajwat, Chaprar, Harpal, Bajra Garhi, Sucheetgrah, Charwah and Shakargarh sectors as a result of the 11 days of continuous mortar shelling: cattle was injured and killed, houses and other buildings were damaged, all schools were shut down.

Most people living in these villages were reported to have moved to safe places in Sialkot city and its surroundings areas. Meanwhile along India's International border, in Punjab, nearly fifteen lakh villagers were displaced from their homes along the border.

Villagers who were asked to evacuate their homes along Punjab's border sought refuge at the homes of relatives, at relief camps and temporary shelters in schools and Gurudwaras. Credit: Narinder Nanu / AFP
Villagers who were asked to evacuate their homes along Punjab's border sought refuge at the homes of relatives, at relief camps and temporary shelters in schools and Gurudwaras. Credit: Narinder Nanu / AFP

Despite the huge number of ceasefire violations, deaths, and shelling the greatest number of violations, across both the Indian LoC and the International Border, actually occurred last year, in 2015.

Data reflects figures until October 23. Courtesy: South Asia Terrorism Portal. Graph: Neha Dani.
Data reflects figures until October 23. Courtesy: South Asia Terrorism Portal. Graph: Neha Dani.

The greatest number of civilians killed on India's borders, in 2014 as well as 2015, was 10. On November 1 this year, officials from India and Pakistan reported that at least 28 civilians had lost their lives in cross-border firing and shelling.

Data reflects figures until October 23, 2016. Graph: Neha Dani.
Data reflects figures until October 23, 2016. Graph: Neha Dani.

In 2015, India lost its highest number of men in the security forces: seven officers. The same number of officers is reported to have been killed in cross-border fire this year, just in the past two weeks since India conducted a cross border surgical strike. India's Border Security Force estimates at least 15 Pakistani armed forces personnel have been killed, a number that Pakistan dismisses, saying it “is part of [India’s] propaganda campaign aimed to hide their losses”.

Data reflects figures until October 23, 2016. Graph: Neha Dani.
Data reflects figures until October 23, 2016. Graph: Neha Dani.

Despite what the numbers indicate, along the borders of both India and Pakistan, civilians live in an uneasy truce, knowing that at any moment, the collateral damage of war could claim their lives. The two countries have gone to war twice since 1947, when they became independent, but cross-border firing has been a nearly constant feature of life along the border.

A paramedic treats Muhammad Raqeeb, who was wounded by Indian shelling in Nakyal sector, 250 kms south of Muzaffarabad, capital city of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, in February 2003. Credit: AFP
A paramedic treats Muhammad Raqeeb, who was wounded by Indian shelling in Nakyal sector, 250 kms south of Muzaffarabad, capital city of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, in February 2003. Credit: AFP
Sixteen-year-old Pakistani Muhammad Ashraf Khan waits in line to be treated at a military hospital in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir in the Neelum Valley, January 2003. Credit: Farooq Naeem/AFP
Sixteen-year-old Pakistani Muhammad Ashraf Khan waits in line to be treated at a military hospital in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir in the Neelum Valley, January 2003. Credit: Farooq Naeem/AFP

In both countries, civilians cross borders to meet families, and make religious pilgrimages. In March, over 125 Hindus crossed the Wagah border to visit Lahore for Maha Shivratri.

The Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan's Punjab, is where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, lived for 17 years, until he died in 1539. It is an important religious destination for Sikhs everywhere, including in India.

An Indian devotee prays at the ancient shrine of Dalip Singh Baba Chamliyal during the annual fair at at the Pakistan-India border at Ramgarh, about 45 kms from the northern city of Jammu, on 23 June 2011. Credit: STR/AFP
An Indian devotee prays at the ancient shrine of Dalip Singh Baba Chamliyal during the annual fair at at the Pakistan-India border at Ramgarh, about 45 kms from the northern city of Jammu, on 23 June 2011. Credit: STR/AFP

Cross-border insurgency isn't limited to militants or soldiers crossing over land alone. Indian and Pakistani fishermen trespass into each other's territorial waters, particularly along the coastlines of Gujarat in India, and Sindh in Pakistan nearly every year.

Usually, these violations are due to the absence of a physical boundary over water, and because small fishermen operate dinghies without navigational tools. Each year, hundreds of fishermen are arrested by the coast guards of both nations. Their release is a difficult and long-winded procedure.

Indian fishermen released from imprisonment by Pakistani authorities return to Indian soil on January 8, 2012. Credit: Narinder Nanu/AFP
Indian fishermen released from imprisonment by Pakistani authorities return to Indian soil on January 8, 2012. Credit: Narinder Nanu/AFP

Despite the cross-border hostilities are exacerbated into a bigger diplomatic conflict every few years, India and Pakistan may never truly be able to cut trade ties without severely impacting their economies, which rely on imports and exports from each other worth millions of rupees.

Some of this trade is illicit – according to the Border Security Force stationed along the International Border of Punjab, Pakistani dealers are able to ply India with hundreds of kilograms of heroin and opium, through willing drug mules and a well-organised border syndicate.

Indian Border Security Force Inspector General  Aditya Mishra and Deputy Inspector General Sanjeev Bhanot pose with 17 packets of confiscated heroin, and fake Indian Rupees during a press conference, held near the India-Pakistan Border at Bharopal, on January 18, 2012. Credit: Narinder Nanu/AFP
Indian Border Security Force Inspector General Aditya Mishra and Deputy Inspector General Sanjeev Bhanot pose with 17 packets of confiscated heroin, and fake Indian Rupees during a press conference, held near the India-Pakistan Border at Bharopal, on January 18, 2012. Credit: Narinder Nanu/AFP
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