Schools closed, 3 Sectors worst hit by shelling
JAMMU, Oct 4: With No let up in heavy mortar shelling and firing by Pakistani troops, which was extended to three Sectors of Poonch, Balakote and Nowshera today, Minister of State for Defence Dr Subhash Bhamre visited forward areas on Line of Control (LoC) in the border district of Rajouri, which were being shelled frequently from across and called for high degree of alertness and vigil on the borders.
The two-day visit of Dr Bhamre came within four days after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had high-level security review in Jammu and Kashmir including frontiers with Pakistan and China with top Army Commanders during her two-day visit to Kashmir and Ladakh.
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Three Army jawans were injured in fresh round of mortar shelling and firing by Pakistan in Poonch sector during the day while authorities ordered closure of educational institutions once again in the areas falling within the range of mortar shelling and firing in Balakote and Poonch Sectors. The panic-stricken people mostly remained confined to their houses in majority of villages falling on the LoC in Poonch district, which bore brunt of the shelling.
Sources told the Excelsior that a mortar shell fired by Pakistani troops fell close to a forward Army post in Poonch sector this morning causing injuries to three troopers, who were manning the post. Army personnel evacuated the injured and shifted them to hospital, where they were responding to the treatment.
Injured have been identified as Naik Ripple Mapa, Naik Lijanthung Lotha and Sepoy Kiyeka Zhamio, all residents of Nagaland. Yesterday, Army jawan Naik Mahendra Chemjung had attained martyrdom in mortar shelling and firing by the Pakistani troops in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district while a day before two children were killed and 13 others including a BSF jawan and 12 civilians were injured in shelling in Rajouri and Poonch sectors.
Sources said Pakistan today extended mortar shelling and firing to three Sectors of Poonch and Balakote in Poonch district and Nowshera in Rajouri district directly targeting civilian population and forward posts of the troops in utter frustration after having suffered massive losses in retaliatory firing by the Indian Army.
In Poonch sector, forward villages of Digwar, Terwan, Malati, Bigial Dara and surroundings witnessed intense shelling from 8 am to 12.30 pm while villages in Balakote sector including Balakote, Balakote Forward, Panjni, Suhala, Dabbi, Kanga, Sandot and Gulad Top were shelled during wee hours of this morning. Bhawani and Lam in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district received few mortar shells in the afternoon.
However, there were no civilian casualties during shelling in any forward village of Poonch and Rajouri districts today. Though Pakistani troops directly targeted civilian areas in forward villages of all these three Sectors, the people confined themselves inside the houses, bunkers and other safer areas to survive shelling.
Since Monday morning when two minors-a boy and a girl were killed and 12 civilians were injured in forward villages of Poonch sector, the people haven’t been venturing out of their houses.
“Even in the villages, where there was no shelling and firing, the people preferred to remain inside their houses as they feared that Pakistan could resort to mortar shelling and firing anytime,” sources said, adding that there was panic among the villagers living close to LoC in both the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri.
Sources said India has been giving very strong and effective response to shelling and firing by the Pakistani troops and there have been reports that Pakistan army has suffered heavy losses, both in terms of casualties and infrastructure. Some forward posts and bunkers of Pakistan have been decimated.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Defence Dr Subhash Bhamre, who reached here this morning on a two-day visit, toured forward areas on Line of Control in Rajouri sector and inter-acted with Army officers and jawans to review the situation. He also visited some of the forward posts.
Nagrota-based White Knight Corps GOC Lt Gen AK Sharma accompanied the Defence Minister to forward areas and briefed him on situation prevailing in the border villages as well as hinterland.
Dr Bhamre asked troops guarding the LoC to maintain a high degree of alertness.
He commended alertness of the troops deployed along the LoC and appreciated their efforts in foiling “nefarious designs of inimical forces”, sources said, adding that the Defence Minister stressed the need for maintaining a high degree of vigil.
He assured the soldiers that their interests are of paramount importance to the nation and that the Government was sensitive to all issues pertaining to them.
Earlier, Dr Bhamre arrived at the White Knight Corps Headquarters in Nagrota, where he was briefed by Lieutenant General A K Sharma on the prevailing security situation and operational dynamics of the Corps.
The Minister appreciated the efforts being made by the soldiers to safeguard the borders in difficult conditions and hostile terrain.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had visited Kashmir and Ladakh on September 29 and 30 and reviewed security situation in the State including borders with Pakistan and China. She had also visited forward areas in Kashmir and Siachen Glacier, the highest battlefield in the world.
Dr Bhamre laid wreath at Hall of Fame to honour the martyrs.