Faulty fencing ties down border farmers

Wrongly placed barbed wire fencing has made life difficult for farmers of Rania and Kakkar villages, besides creating security gaps along the Indo-Pak border. At least 2,750 acres of land that belongs to India stands divided as the fence which begins from border pillar no. 95\\\/5S to pillar no. 95\\\/7G has been positioned over 1 km ahead of the zero line between India and Pakistan.

With this lapse, the farmers who intend to till their land beyond this fence not only face difficulty in reaching their fields, but also sometimes have to face the wrath of the BSF and the police since this stretch has become a favourite spot for infiltrators and drug smugglers. The issue was raised by Amritsar MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla in Parliament on Tuesday. He demanded immediate rectification by re-fixing the fence nearer to the zero line, touching Kakkar village.

He said even the Punjab government’s seed farm was located beyond this barbed fence. Due to the anomaly, the farmers of the assembly constituencies of Chogawan block (Raja Sansi), near Kakkar village, and Attari have to go through multiple security checks before crossing over the fence gates to work in their fields. On the other hand, the security agencies also face issues as this 2,000-acre stretch is too vast to be monitored at night with limited lighting arrangements. This is the same spot from where the BSF had seized heroin worth over Rs 20 crore on two occasions between July 1 and 11. The contraband was found stashed in tractor drawbars. “This misplaced fence over 1.25 km should be re-fixed to give relief to farmers and the security agencies. The issue poses a serious threat to the national security. I thus demand an instant and permanent solution,” Aujla said in Parliament. Residents of Kakkar village Sukhdev Singh Kakkar and Jasbir Singh said five gates of BSF (89, 90, 91, 92 and 92-A) were located along the fence. “We have to face rigorous security check as our fields are located beyond this wrongly fixed fence. We are allowed to work in our fields only between 10 am and 4 pm,” they said.

Kehar Singh, Rania village sarpanch, said the farmers were grilled by the police, if some contraband was recovered from their fields. “The farmers leave the fields by 4 pm. After that, if some Pakistani smuggler sneaks in drugs or other illegal material, the farmer from whose field it is recovered is taken to task by cops,” he said. Aujla demanded the construction of concrete tracks along the barbed wire on the lines of Rajasthan border for an easy movement of residents and security personnel in the area.