Barely a few kilometres from the International border, the residents of Paloura village here have organised a month-long prayer meet to pay tributes to over 40 CRPF personnel killed in a terror attack in Pulwama last year.
The prayer meet in this border district started on February 2 with the lighting of 'Akhand Jyoti' on the initiative of the local youth to convey a message, especially to Pakistan, that "we stand with our forces and will not let the enemy succeed in its nefarious design", the organisers said.
The meet will end on March 3.
The CRPF personnel were killed in a suicide attack by a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorist driving an explosive-laden car on their convoy passing through Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Pulwama district on February 14 last year.
India responded within days with a pre-emptive airstrike on a JeM terror camp at Balakot inside Pakistan on February 26, leading to spurt in cross-border shelling, especially along the Line of Control (LoC) by Pakistan since then.
"This is an emotional response from our youth to the dastardly act of terrorists in Pulwama about a year ago...through this Akhand Jyoti, we are paying our tributes to the personnel of our forces who attained martyrdom over the past three decades fighting Pakistan-sponsored terrorism," a local resident Jaidev Singh said.
Singh was sitting among dozens of local villagers including women and children at the site of the prayer meet which is drawing villagers from adjoining areas.
Patriotic songs, sloganeering and chants in support of the forces reverberate in the air whenever a new group comes to join them.
Several panchayat members including the local block development council chairman, Radhay Sham, also visited the site and hailed the initiative as a step to imbibe patriotism among the younger generation.
Sitting under a tent at an open field in front of a huge poster carrying the pictures of the CRPF personnel killed in the suicide attack, some of the participants are fasting.
"We have faced the brunt of Pakistani shelling over the years...the Pulwama incident was the worst ever terror attack claiming the lives of so many CRPF personnel," Singh said.
Another participant Rashpaul Verma said 90 per cent of the village youth are serving in the Army, paramilitary forces and police and "we are nationalist by core."
"This initiative will motivate our younger generation to be ready for any sacrifice for the country," he said, adding the village will observe the martyrdom anniversary of the jawans on February 14 in a befitting manner.
Sham said the people of the border villages are standing behind the forces and if the need comes will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them.