The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Toast to truce & sons

Suchetgarh, (Indo-Pak border), Nov. 26: Till yesterday, their guns did the talking. This morning, they said it with sweets.

Commandant of the BSF 60 Battalion Rajesh Gupta greeted Colonel Nadeem of the Chenab wing of rangers with sweets, which were distributed among soldiers on both sides as the midnight twins held their ceasefire on Id-ul-Fitr, raising hopes of a thaw in relations.

“It was a moment of great significance for all of us,” Nadeem told reporters who had gathered to capture the moment.

Nadeem, almost six feet tall, walked to the Indian side followed by his men. “Id Mubarak,” Gupta said. “Kher Mubarak,” Nadeem replied to cheers from both sides.

Nadeem made his son shake hands with the Indian officer’s son. “You would be friends,” he told his son as they shook hands. “Of course,” they chorused.

“We are meeting in this manner and I hope that by next Diwali, we again exchange sweets in the same fashion,” Gupta told reporters.

The Indian Army said no firing had been reported since the ceasefire took effect at midnight Indian time on Tuesday on the Line of Control and positions on the Siachen glacier, the world’s highest battleground.

“We haven’t fired a single bullet, nor has there been any report that India has fired,” confirmed a Pakistani officer commanding the Chakothi sector, south of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The truce came as welcome change from the daily cacophony of gunfire and boom of artillery guns. While the border hamlet of Suchetgarh, just 50 metres from Pakistani territory, wore a festive look with decorated marketplaces, thousands of residents in Srinagar swarmed mosques to offer prayers. Many said it was the most peaceful Id they had seen in years.

“Oh Allah! return peace with dignity to our mother Kashmir,” the chief mullah in a Srinagar mosque cried.

“We are celebrating Id fearlessly just half-a-kilometre from the LoC for the first time in 14 years of turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir,” 72-year-old Din Mohmmad said. He said people in his village could not sleep last night because of the total silence. “We had become habituated to shelling and firing.”

“See cheerful faces all around. Coming events cast their shadow before. I am sure the ceasefire will cast its shadow on the entire region and peace will prevail,” Nasar-ullah, a 70-year-old retired teacher, said in Srinagar.

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