The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Villagers feel let down by army

Ghatti (Jammu and Kashmir), Sept. 9: The army’s wrap-up yesterday of its weeklong operation against militants holed up in the Ghatti hills of Kathua district has demoralised the villagers.

It is perhaps the first time that fear has so struck the hearts of the Hindu population of the Jammu plains. Here, the voices against militancy have always been the loudest.

The villagers have often rushed to police stations and army camps to tip them off about militants and even helped in fighting the intruders. That courage has now turned into dejection. The refrain among residents is “our forces are woefully unprepared to fight terrorism and we have to pay the price for that”.

These villagers who have seen wars are now thinking of moving out and thus becoming refugees. Many children skipped school as elders feared for their safety and debated likely new places to settle in. “I have been warned against stepping out of my home,” said Rajinder Kumar, a student at Channi school. His friends, too, stayed put.

“Nobody can offer us protection, not even the soldiers,” said Sheetla Devi while fetching water from the local handpump. Sheetla and the other women are angry that their cooking for the troops and carrying water and ferrying boxes of ammunition have been in vain.

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