Bein Gallar: Harvesting the paddy crop particularly the aromatic Basmati rice cultivated near the International Border in RS Pura border belt amid relentless shelling by Pakistani Rangers has made farmers sitting ducks of the firing from across the border. Most areas in and around the RS Pura belt are extremely fertile and best suited for basmati cultivation.
A total of 17,742 hectares having standing paddy crop has been affected due to the shelling and firing by the Pakistani Rangers. The paddy crop grown in the area is worth Rs 130 crore.
“The basmati rice grown in Jammu and Kashmir is now under threat from Pakistan”, an official of the Agriculture department said, adding, farmers are anxious that “if there is no one to harvest, the crop will die in fortnight”.
With the crop ripe, farmers have been risking their lives to harvest the paddy.
54-year-old Sham Lal has rushed to his fields along with few family members to cut the paddy growing close to the International Border in R S Pura border belt of Jammu district. “We are helpless. We cannot afford to lose our crops. Our family is dependent on these crops. We are risking our lives to harvest these standing crops”, Lal said.
Like Lal, several marginal farmers living along the borderline are working overtime to speedily complete harvesting of the crops. Bein Gallar Sarpanch Ram Paul, whose hamlet was shelled by Pakistani Rangers few days ago, says farmers in border areas are forced to risk their lives to harvest their ripe crops as they depend on them for livelihood. “In the absence of labourers and machines, they are reluctant to come with their families and undertake harvesting.The border farmers have taken it on themselves to harvest their standing crops and in the process have become sitting ducks for the Pak Rangers”, Paul said.
However, like them the farmers owning big agriculture land are not so lucky as they await paddy cutting machines and labourers, who have fled the farmlands following Pakistani shelling and firing and are reluctant to return to commence farming in the border belt of Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts.