Pakistanis want to merge with India

Line of demarcation from India and PakistanLife in the crisis region

Nobody wants to leave here, even if there should be a war between India and Pakistan. The residents of the village of Jerda are currently building bunkers. The village is located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, only a few hundred meters from the Pakistani border. Hardly anyone is interested in world politics here. Even if two nuclear powers are twitching their muscles violently, the farmers and families in Jerda just want the constant fighting, which has flared up again and again for decades, to finally come to an end.

Soldiers keep undercover

Hilly fields with bright yellow mustard flowers. At first glance, the border between Pakistan and India looks idyllic. But under the grassy hills there are bunkers, in the distance there are barbed wire fences. At noon, the sounds of the muezzin echo over to the Indian side. You are from Pakistan. The arch enemy of India calls for midday prayer.

This is one of the most dangerous posts in India, says a young border official. Officially, he is not allowed to give an interview. The soldier says more quietly that he and his colleagues have been under cover for days and that they only watch the Pakistani enemy through mirrors. Here, in the southern part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, they are surrounded by Pakistan. The highest level of alert has been in effect for two weeks.

The villagers from Jerda have different opinions when it comes to dealing with ore free Pakistan (ARD / Silke Diettrich)

In the villages near the border, the soldiers only drive in armored vehicles. Immediately behind them are the village boys on their moped, they don't even wear helmets. Mohan Singh Bhatti looks after the young men lost in thought. He is standing in his gate entrance, wearing a blue turban and sunglasses.

"War is always bad. It only creates more problems," says 65-year-old Bhatti. "War is very dangerous for everyone, whether Indian or Pakistani."

"It only has to do with campaign tactics"

Mohan Singh Bhatti knows what he is talking about. He grew up in the border village of Jerda and has already seen three major wars between India and Pakistan. Grenades have been striking around him for many years. One of them cost his nephew his life. This constant guerrilla warfare is the real evil, says Bhatti. The great din currently, as he describes the fighting in the air between the two countries, would attract worldwide attention. But Bhatti does not believe that he will now have to experience his fourth war here:

"It only has to do with campaign tactics. When these attacks are over, our prime minister shouldn't be looking for retaliation either. It has to stop now. That should be enough for his re-election."

Parliamentary elections are due to take place in India in a few weeks. The incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi is running again. The fact that he was raising a hard hand against the archenemy Pakistan shortly before, of all times, is well received by many.

"Not with me," says the 65-year-old. He doesn't fall for that. Like Bhatti, many men in his village wear turban. They belong to the Sikhs' religious community. Here in the south of the state of Jammu and Kashmir mainly Sikhs and Hindus live. In contrast to the north, where mainly Muslims live. Both India and Pakistan each claim the entire state for themselves. Pakistan now rules around a third, India around two thirds. At the borders, people suffer from constant hostility. Everywhere in his village Bhatti shows us bullet holes in the walls or holes made by grenades in the walls. A bunker is currently being built in the yard of his neighbor Harbhan Kaur. Modi is paid for by the government:

"There should be a war with Pakistan, now or later, it doesn't matter. Modi is strong and he has what it takes."

"We're tired of it. We're constantly under fire here, let's end this once and for all with a war. We can't live in constant fear here forever…."

Grueling situation

The Prime Minister has just proven his strength. A few days ago the Indian Air Force entered Pakistan and dropped bombs there. Allegedly on a headquarters of terrorists who were planning attacks in India. Numerous terrorists were killed in the process, the Indian media cite alleged sources from the Ministry of Defense. So far there is no evidence of this. Nobody asks about that here in the border area. Kaur's daughter is in the tenth grade and she too says that she is always just afraid. So that they stop, there would only be one thing:

"War," says the 15-year-old with conviction. It couldn't be worse than being exposed to this constant terror.

A few kilometers further on the national border between Pakistan and India is the village of Nanga. Dozens of men carry stones and mix concrete; they too are building bunkers here. Until farmer Ramesh's is finished, he sleeps with his family with relatives almost every night, further inland:

"We get up here between six and seven o'clock, a lot of people from the village do it," says Ramseh, "mainly because of the children. In the morning we come back and see whether our house is still standing and the cattle are still alive . "

That is grueling and Ramesh also believes that only a victory against Pakistan, like over 40 years ago, can change that. But unlike in the previous wars, both Pakistan and India now have nuclear weapons. Nobody really wants to think about the fact that they - regardless of whether they win or lose - could destroy everything here.