Monday, January 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India 


M A I N   N E W S

Villagers cope with mine blast horror
Rashmi Talwar

Mother of Sahib Singh
Mother of Sahib Singh, a victim of the mine blast, inconsolable at Mahawaon village, Amritsar, on Sunday. —Photo by Rajiv Sharma

Indo-Pak Border (Amritsar), January 6
“The deafening sound of the blast threw me on the pile of sugarcane I was thrashing. My first impression was that war had broken out. But when I saw the fire and the bodies blow up high in the air, I collected myself to rescue the victims”, said Sukhraj Singh (25), alias Nitu of Mahawa village. He is one of the two persons who helped in the rescue operations. He helped save at least seven Army personnel and lift three mutilated bodies.

He was just 200 yards from the border fencing in his fields. He said Army personnel stopped a Sumo passing by and used it to rush at least seven injured jawans, with injuries mostly on the lower part of the body and legs, to hospitals. One, according to Sukhraj, died before the Sumo left.

“Bodies flew and I saw one body tear away from its legs,” said Sukhraj.

Gurpreet (10), a girl sitting atop her house merely 100 yards away from the blast side, saw blackened faces of men running hither and thither. She fell off her stool and was saved by her mother from falling from the roof. Her grandfather Kashmir Singh’s house bore the brunt of the impact, with shattered glass pieces spread out all over the verandah.”

The cracked roof and collapsed rear verandah of the house were a mute witness to the powerful mine blast. A little distance away three burnt trucks lay upturned, while a ghadooka (indigenous truck) carrying vegetables lay on its side.

Ajaib Singh was seen crying over his dead son Lakha who had been released from jail just a day before. Villagers collected money for an inconsolable Karnail Singh whose son Sahib Singh, alias Sabha’s body lay cold in a tractor trailer after the Army released the corpse here today.

Raghbir Singh Sidhu, a teacher, revealed that the patwaris of the area had started enlisting the village folk this morning as a precautionary measure to thwart any possible misadventure by enemy para-dropping or sneaking-in its agents in the border villages.

Meantime, villagers have started digging trenches in their houses. Paramjit was all smeared with dust as she helped her brother and uncle to dig a trench in their house.

Meanwhile, a mild blast took place here today around 4 p.m. on the same site even as three houses, including that of Kashmir Singh, were taken over by the Army and the entire area was cordoned off. Army personnel were seen keeping vigil from Kashmir Singh’s house.

According to villagers, the Army personnel were assembling mines and an Army truck suddenly slid backwards rolling over the prepared mines, triggering the blasts. The truck reportedly was a one-tonner.

A jawan sitting on the road about a few yards from the truck was saved as the impact was upwards, while one with his ear blown off dragged himself to a nearby tubewell where he was saved as little Gurpreet raised the alarm.

It is learnt that a DSP of the area was disallowed to proceed to the blast site last night.Back

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