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Despite being ravaged by the 1971 Indo-Pak war and the Kargil conflict, Hundarman, a sleepy hamlet on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu & Kashmir’s Kargil district, has found its own way of chronicling two important chapters of Indian military history.
This village, with a meagre population and apparently nondescript economy, has preserved the pieces of mortar shells, belongings of Pakistani troops and shells in a museum dedicated to remembering the wars that they have witnessed. Even the first-aid box used by Pakistan army during the 1971 war, their military equipment, boxes of Pakistan army’s dry ration are kept in the museum. They have preserved all the bullet and mortar shells of the Kargil conflict that ravaged their dwelling units and forced them to relocate to a nearby place.
Located around 12 km from Kargil town, Hundarman is the last village on the LoC in Kargil. Prior to the 1971 war, the village was occupied by Pakistan.
TOI visited the village and found it completely deserted, as all the 32 families shifted around 500 metres above the present location after the Kargil war.
“We were hit very hard by both the 1971 and Kargil wars. The 1971 war separated us from Pakistan and the Kargil war forced us to leave the present location to avoid further devastation in case of any future war,” says Mohammad Baqir, a resident of Hundarman who also works as an Army porter.
Twenty years after the Kargil conflict, the area around the village still looks like a battle zone with notice boards all around warning visitors about landmines laid by the Indian Army during the two wars.
The village has around 32 families and a population of 250 people. The male members of work as Army porters and women can been seen farming.
Baqir, whose brother Mohammad Illiyas maintains the small war museum, said all the articles in the museum had been preserved by the villagers. “It was only in 2015, they gathered all these articles/collections and converted a part of the abandoned village into a museum,” he added.
Illiyas said inhabitants of Hundarman are descendants of Shia Muslims belonging to the Purgi tribe. “They are a close knit community. Initially, they depended on agriculture and cattle rearing. Only a few essential commodities like salt were brought from Kargil in exchange of locally produced tobacco. But it’s not selfsufficient anymore.” Around 15-20 people, including foreigners, visit the museum every month.
Mohammad Murtaza, a local boy, said the village saw some signs of development after it was connected to Kargil through a motorable road and got power connectivity in 2006.