Indian, Pakistan armies usher in New Year at the border, exchange sweets – Times of India

JAMMU: The Indian Army and their counterparts in Pakistan ushered in New Year by exchanging sweets at two spots along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu region’s Poonch district on Saturday.
There had been no customary exchange of sweets between the two armies for the past few years due to rising tension between India and Pakistan in the wake of continuous ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC as well as the international border. After the renewal of the ceasefire agreement in February 2021, this is the first time that the soldiers of both countries have exchanged sweets.
“The two armies exchanged sweets and greetings at Poonch-Rawalkot and Mendhar-Hotspring crossing points along the LoC in Poonch district to promote mutual trust and tranquillity,” Jammu-based defence spokesperson Lt Col Devender Anand said, adding that all necessary Covid-19 protocols were followed during the exchange.
“Considering the ongoing ceasefire along the Indo-Pak border, this gesture is aimed at further enhancing peace and harmony in Jammu and Kashmir,” the spokesperson said.
The ceasefire has not only changed the situation along the LoC and international border but also improved the lives of those residing in villages along the border. The J&K admin and BSF authorities have helped farmers living in these places cultivate abandoned land near the international border in Kathua district’s Hiranagar sector. Farmers living along the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts have also begun farming activities after guns fell silent.
The initiative has helped farmers return to their 150-acre land — which had to be abandoned in the wake of cross-border hostilities — for the first time in 20 years. More than 5,000 acres of fertile land along the international border, spread across 22 border villages from Paharpur to Londi in Hiranagar sector remained fallow for two decades because of the frequent firing and shelling by Pakistan.
“Agricultural fields in our village are fertile but farmers were unable to work freely in the past. Things have changed now and they can farm without fear,” said Mohammad Aslam, resident of a forward area in Rajouri.
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