<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On a breezy evening, Sulaiman Shah, 90, is frantically looking at Haji Pir pass from his small compound here. A man who has seen three wars has never been so anxious than today. For Shah, who has witnessed death and destruction very closely, mere a mention of war sends shivers down his spine.”War is not a good thing to happen. It brings death and destruction. I have seen three wars closely and I know what it means. So my advice is to avoid war and try to give peace a chance”, said Shah.From 1947 to 1972 to 2003, the nonagenarian vividly remembers the wars and the destruction it caused to the people living near the line of control (LoC). “In 1947 people were at least able to stroll on the streets. But 1965 was a different ball game. There was massive shelling from across the LoC,” he recalled.Ask him about the situation before the 2003 ceasefire, Shah bites his lips while pointing at the Haji Pir pass. “The shells used to come from this side (points to Haji Pir pass). So many people have died in this village. Houses and other property have been damaged. We were living in constant fear,” he said.Enter 2016 escalation, Shah fears the worst given that the two countries are nuclear armed with state of art weaponry that could sound death knell for the people in case the war breaks out.”If there is shelling again we have nowhere to go. We pray that the situation does not take a turn for worse. Let there be peace,” he said.Welcome to Uri, a border area which is at the heart of the recent escalation between India and Pakistan. Nineteen soldiers were killed and 20 others injured when four Jaish-e-Mohommad fidayeens stormed into 12 brigade headquarters and unleashed mayhem on September 18.The attack sparked an outrage across the nation prompting the Indian army to launch the surgical strikes on the militant launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Two Pakistani soldiers and several militants have been killed in the strikes which was first of its kind in the recent past.An eerie calm has descended on the garrison town of Uri with people whispering about the fallout of the escalation. Fear is palpable among the local population which is on the edge since the escalation started between the two countries.”There is fear among the population. This village is in the direct range of shelling (from Pakistan given its proximity to Haji Pir pass). We have no safety mechanism. The underground bunkers, which were constructed for to shelter people during shelling, were damaged in the 2005 earthquake”, said Aftab Ahmad, a local resident here.Situated at the altitude of 2637 meters, the strategic Haji Pir pass, which connects Poonch with Uri along the LoC, was returned to Pakistan by India under Tashkent agreement.What has added to the fear factor is the congestion in the village given the population explosion in the last two decades. “The families and population have grown manifold since 2003. One family has mutated into four. If shelling happens again this village will be the worst hit”, said Aftab.Jammu and Kashmir government however is playing down the fear factor saying there is no need to panic given that the situation is under control.”There is no need to panic. Situation is under control. Our contingency plan is already in place. But so far everything is normal”, said Dr Nasir Ahmad Naqash, district development commissioner, Baramulla.

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An eerie calm descends on Uri which is at the heart of the Indo-Pak escalation