In pictures: Life along Kashmir border

  • Published
Indian soldier in a bunker on the Line of Control
Image caption,
The de facto border dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan is one of the most militarised boundaries in the world. Tens of thousands of troops face each other across the 740km (460-mile) Line of Control (LoC). Photographer Abid Bhat travelled along the LoC in Indian-administered Kashmir to record life.
A Kashmiri Muslim girl walks as an Indian army soldier stands guard near the Line of Control with mountains of Pakistani side of Kashmir in the background, in Uri, some 125 km north of Srinagar
Image caption,
The line has been a source of conflict for almost the entire period of existence of India and Pakistan.
Image caption,
Two of the three India-Pakistan wars were over Kashmir - the first in 1947-48 and the second in 1965. But deadlock in the fighting meant the status quo remained until hostilities began again in 1971. Peace negotiations and a subsequent agreement between the two sides in 1972 then led to the establishment of the LoC.
Image caption,
Ties between the South Asian neighbours have been further strained in recent months by a series of deadly clashes on the border. The violence left a number of soldiers dead on both sides, including five Indian soldiers killed in August.
Image caption,
The border runs over forested hills and inhospitable terrain. Defying logic in some places, the line splits villages in half and bisects mountains. Here a stream passes through the mountains between India and Pakistan.
Image caption,
India finished constructing a fence - rows of barbed wire with concertina coils - to check infiltration from the Pakistani side in 2004. Every now and then, the two sides have exchanged fire, but in 2013 the firing was the heaviest in many years.
Image caption,
Thousands of families live in areas along the disputed border.
Image caption,
But cross-border shelling has created an atmosphere of fear. Local people like Irshad Ahmed who lives in Uri town have been wounded in cross-border shelling.
Image caption,
Saima Chalkoo teaches children in a primary school in the open near the border. Ms Chalkoo says prior to the ceasefire agreement between the neighbours in 2003, they lived in constant fear.
Image caption,
Children from nearby villages who study in Ms Chalkoo's school hope this year things may improve.
Image caption,
The prolonged and heavy militarisation of the region has wrecked people's lives and ruined the economy, as well as depriving a generation of proper education and normal upbringing.