The Nowhere People: An excerpt from Happymon Jacob's book “The Line of Control”

03 February 2019

Happymon Jacob, a columnist with The Hindu and an associate professor of disarmament studies at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, was provided exclusive access by Indian and Pakistani armed forces to explore the regions surrounding the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. His research is laid out in his recent book “The Line of Control: Travelling with the Indian and Pakistani Armies,” which documents various aspects of civilians’ and soldiers’ lives on both sides of the border and considers broader questions about nationhood and identity.

In the following excerpt, he looks closely at how the imposition of a border has affected life in Behroti. A village around a kilometre ahead of the Indian fence on the Line of Control, it was captured by India during the 1971 war in Jammu and Kashmir and split in half, with the regions on either side allocated to India and Pakistan. Jacob recounts anecdotes of villagers who had to navigate red tape to cross over to the other country—such as obtaining a visa from Delhi in order to visit family members who live less than a kilometre away—and contemplates the psychological effects that such a divide could engender in citizens living near the LOC.

Happymon Jacob is an associate professor of Disarmament Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is a columnist with The Hindu, and hosts a weekly show on national security at Jacob is the author of Line on Fire: Ceasefire Violations and India-Pakistan Escalation Dynamics (Oxford University Press, January 2019) and The Line of Control: Travelling with the Indian and Pakistani Armies (Penguin Viking, December 2018).

Keywords: Jammu and Kashmir POK Pakistan 1971 War Line of Control Nation Behrot