Why do Indian mosques use echo speakers

Difficult border traffic in Kashmir

Small border trade has developed on the Kishanganga River in northern Kashmir, which forms the demarcation line between India and Pakistan, after the ceasefire in November. However, it was ended again by the armies on both sides, who continue to expand and fortify their military positions.

In the far north of Kashmir, the Kishanganga River forms the armistice line between India and Pakistan. The narrow valley floor is not a natural boundary, as the villages along the river have formed a valley community for centuries. Even when the armistice cut the valley after the war in 1971, small border traffic continued with barter, weddings and joint participation in religious festivals. But after 1989, when a guerrilla war began in Kashmir and the routes over the passes became infiltration routes for heavily armed underground fighters, the Kishanganga turned into a hot border. Almost every day there was fire from the artillery positions over the mountain ridges, especially from the Indian side, which from here on Nanga Parbat could directly hit the Karakoram Highway between Pakistan and Sinkiang in China. The Kishanganga became a closely guarded river, and the shepherd families in the Neelam Valley, as the valley is called in Pakistan, had to be happy when they were able to leave their villages. - Everything has changed again for two months. In November the two states agreed a ceasefire and controls along the border began to ease. It took a few weeks for people to take courage and go back to the river bank to wave to their distant neighbors and to exchange a few words with them across the roaring river. The example was contagious, the encounters up and down the valley became more frequent. Message in a bottle, then also packages of food and clothes for relatives who might have seen each other in the fifteen years before but never met again, were thrown into the river. On January 18th, someone in the village of Teetwal had the idea of ​​using the mosque's loudspeaker to invite all residents of the surrounding hamlets to a village meeting. On both sides, people stood in the mud and rain, waving to each other under the umbrellas.

Other villages followed suit, and it wasn't long before some people on either side managed to stretch a rope on which baskets of gifts were carried to the other side. In mid-January this had already become a brisk trade, in which textiles were exchanged for chickens, oil for blankets and lentils, accompanied by the handing over of invitation cards for birth and wedding celebrations or envelopes with money for relatives. That was too much for the Indian army, because who knows, maybe hand grenades and ammunition would soon be transported across the river in the covered baskets. Now the newspaper «The Hindu» reports that the army has ended local border traffic. The Pakistanis also stepped in after around 10,000 people gathered on both sides of the river on January 26, India's national holiday, to watch the national flag being hoisted in the Indian hamlets.

The ceasefire has not only resulted in fraternization of the shepherds and farmers of the Neelam Valley. The two armies also seized the opportunity, but did not follow the behavior of their own civilian population as an example. Instead of exchanging food rations, they prefer to follow the adage that trust is good, but control is better. The silence of the cannons is used on both sides to bring in cement and sand, dig trenches, repair positions and fortify bunkers. The Indians are busy building their fence on the ridge to prevent infiltration. On the Pakistani side, where the valley slopes are much steeper and more exposed, according to the newspaper "The Hindu" even whole parts of hills are said to have been blown up. The detonations that echo through the valley did not come from cannons. But they are a loud warning to the residents on both sides of the Kishanganga that a ceasefire is not yet peace.