Keran Crisis

Nearly for three weeks, Keran was in news. Despite that nobody was in a position to see and report from the spot, located around 160 kms from Srinagar, it is still in news. In fact, most of the news about the spot comes from Delhi and not from Srinagar.

It will take some more time to understand why there was a blitzkrieg over Keran, almost everybody talking about it. Though it had rejected the idea of the event being a repetition of Kargil – where militants and Pakistani regulars had occupied high altitude position for some time, the army is likely to announce a probe into the happenings.

Army has made many statements about Keran, especially the village Shal Bathou (jackal hill) that exists on either side of the LoC. While one version was that a large number of militants had barged into this side, the other version – also coming from security grid, was that the infiltrators had occupied some unmanned posts and the army was trying its best to unseat them. There were claims about various killings, photo evidences about corpses and infiltrations and, above all, existence of Special Forces in the area.

Military historians are aware of the reality that what was reported this time has not happened for the first time. There were various occasions in the recent history when the rival sides altered their positions to browbeat each other. This, obviously, did not happening for the last time because rival armies do resort to cross-LoC raids.

But the Keran picture that was drawn in the wake of the ongoing happenings is perfectly the age old frame of Kashmir in which everything exists excepting Kashmir.

While there is no denying the fact that infiltration is a reality, nobody ever has talked about thousands of people who lived in the area where gun-battles are ragging on every drop of a hat. Shal Bothou is one of those places where at one point of time, people living in their stone-mortar sheds, living a primitive life with their herds. A situation later emerged in which scores of such villages were literally depopulated.  Most of them are living on the other side of the LoC as refugees. Some of the famous photo frames about the Keran (that exist on both the sides of the LoC) are the people shouting at each other from the banks of Neelum / Kishanganga River. They are cousins who are unable to meet in the new security situation that was forced on the area straddling LoC. The ‘ghost villages’ that were referred to by the media were once inhabited by them.

Post-depopulation, the second major action in the belt was the erection of fence. It subdivided the areas located near LoC. The village that dominated the news from Keran actually lives between the LoC and the fence – literally closer to Pakistan. While the village is easily accessible from the other side, it is very difficult to reach there from this side.

Can these Keran photo frames start including the people as well? That only can tell the real story.


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