Kargil Special: Dras residents grateful to Indian Army for protecting them

By: Richa Bajpai
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Dras, July 26: How do the people of Dras spend their days today? The Dras sector in Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the biggest damage at the time of the India-Pakistan conflict in the summer of 1999. The Pakistani intruders even took the advantage of the fact that Indian personnel were not deployed in many of the posts in this sector.

Today, the army is always on the alert here and Oneindia spoke to the local people to understand how their life continues amid the tension and fear created by the presence of jackboots. Is the situation in Dras same as that of Srinagar where people have to face inconvenience caused by the presence of armymen daily.

But after speaking to the local people of Dras, Oneindia found that the situation is different there. The Indian Army is always on its toes to ensure full protection and safety of the local residents. The patrolling is always tight and the local villagers, who were forced to flee their homes during the conflict, feel completely safe behind the wall put up by the country's jawans.

Ghulam Mohammad, 75, is one such person. Mohammad resides in a village at the foothills of the Taloling Range. Fifteen years younger at the time of the conflict, Mohammad had spent some days with the armymen in the hills. He also fondly remembers how the armymen saved him and his family at the time of the conflict. "If the people here are sleeping peacefully in the night today, it is because of the Indian Army," Mohammad said. The man also made arrangements for the armymen's food for the entire village turned empty during the military clash.

Zakir Khan, another local resident who runs a small store, also echoed Ghulam Muhammad's words. Aged around 20, Zakir told Oneindia: "If tourists feel safe to come to Dras today, the credit goes to the Indian Army for constantly guarding this place," he said, adding that the army also played a big role in restoring normalcy in Dras after the conflict got over.

Zakir said it is because of the Indian Army that they manage to earn a living when extreme climatic conditions cut off Dras from the rest of the country. "The army arranges for employment like removing ice or reaching supplies to jawans posted at the higher altitudes and that help us earn some money," he told Oneindia. He said if the army is removed from this place, then they would also have to leave this place.

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