People migrate at Arnia, other forward areas
31 villages, 28,000 population affected in Pargwal, Kanachak
JAMMU, June 3: Within six days of sticking to 2003 ceasefire agreement, Pakistani troops resorted to heavy mortar shelling and firing using Long Range guns to directly target forward BSF posts and civilian areas in Pargwal and Kanachak sectors in Jammu district during the wee hours of this morning in which two BSF jawans were martyred and 16 persons including 15 civilians and a police constable were injured.
Latest shelling triggered migration from Arnia sector, which had witnessed heavy shelling last month, leading to casualties and damages while only few people left Pargwal and Kanachak even as the administration had established six lodgment centres for them in the safer areas.
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Official sources told the Excelsior that Pakistani Rangers suddenly started unprovoked and indiscriminate shelling and firing targeting 31 villages and over two dozen Border Out Posts (BOPs) of the BSF in Pargwal and Kanachak sectors on the International Border (IB) in Jammu district at 1.15 am when the people were fast asleep in their houses. Alert BSF jawans immediately retaliated the shelling and firing very effectively.
Such was the intensity of Pakistan shelling that number of mortar shells started landing in the villages at Pargwal, Kanachak, Shamachak and even Jhiri, which is away from the International Border. Sources said Pakistan had used Long Range mortar shells like 120mm and 82mm to target the BSF posts and civilian areas besides automatic and semi-automatic weapons drawing matching response from the BSF.
Heavy shelling and firing continued till 11.30 am after which there was intermittent exchange of firing till 1.15 am today. However, late in the evening Pakistan again started shelling and firing in forward villages of Pargwal and Kanachak sectors, which was replied by the BSF. Intermittent exchange of shelling and firing continued till late tonight when the reports last came in.
Two BSF jawans were martyred in the shelling and firing in Pargwal sector while 15 civilians and a police personnel were injured in Pargwal and Kanachak sectors. Pakistan also suffered extensive damages in retaliatory shelling and firing by the BSF but exact number of casualties and infrastructural damage on Pakistan side couldn’t be ascertained immediately.
Two BSF jawans, who were martyred in Pakistan shelling, have been identified as Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Satya Narayan Yadav R/o village Baspur in Devaria district of Uttar Pradesh and Vijay Kumar Pandey, constable R/o village Sathiyawan in Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh. Both the jawans were evacuated from the site of shelling and shifted to hospital, where they breathed their last. Bodies of the martyrs were sent to their native villages with full honours for cremation tomorrow.
SSP Jammu Vivek Gupta told the Excelsior after visiting affected villages along the International Border that situation was “tense” but majority of people have preferred to stay in the houses. Very few people have left for the houses of their relatives and friends, he added and said all border police stations and posts have been put on very high alert and asked to deploy Bullet-Proof bunkers and ambulances in all border villages to meet with any kind of eventuality.
Additional Deputy Commissioner, Arun Manhas said a total of 31 villages involving 28,000 population in Pargwal and Kanachak sectors have been affected due to fresh shelling and firing by Pakistan. He said the administration has established six lodgment centres including Government Higher Secondary School, Domana, Sai Palace, Radha Swami Satsang Ghar, Dayaran, Forest Training Institute and two local Government schools.
However, Manhas said, the civilians from none of the border villages have reported at the lodgment centres till tonight. On the other, he added, number of people have migrated from Arnia sector and taken shelter at Government Higher Secondary School, Slair. Some people in Arnia have also left for the houses of their relatives in anticipation of shelling and firing as this sector bore brunt of Pakistan shelling last month along with RS Pura, Ramgarh, Samba and Hiranagar. There were reports of silent migration from some other forward villages also.
“A number of cattle were killed or injured in Pakistan shelling. Houses, cattle shed and other structures of the people also suffered extensive damages in all villages hit by shelling and firing,” sources said.
At about 7 pm, Pakistan again resorted to firing at few places in Pargwal and Kanachak sectors which continued for some time but there were no reports of fresh losses.
Authorities pressed Bullet-Proof bunkers in some of the villages to evacuate civilians during the shelling and firing and lodged them in safer areas but majority of the people returned this afternoon as the shelling stopped.
Only on May 29, Indo-Pak Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) had agreed for sticking to 2003 ceasefire agreement on Line of Control and International Border, sending a ray of hope among the border dwellers that peace would now prevail on the borders, at least for some time. However, Pakistan violated the agreement within six days by resorting to heavy shelling and firing on the IB, triggering fresh wave of panic among the border dwellers.
Meanwhile, Inspector General of BSF, Jammu Frontiers, Ram Awtar said today the latest attack on Indian forward points by Pakistani forces, in which two BSF jawans were killed today, has yet again proved that Islamabad said one thing and did another.
He also ruled out that sniping or an attack by enemy personnel wearing ‘thermal camouflage suits’ led to the two casualties on the International Border (IB) here.
Both BSF personnel fell to cross-border firing from Pakistan, he said.
Awtar said the ceasefire violation by Pakistan after the recent DGMO level talks between New Delhi and Islamabad again proved that the neighbouring country’s words did not match its deeds.
“It is saying something but doing something else. The latest incident proved it once again,” he said. Awtar said the BSF was strictly implementing the decision taken at the DGMO level by the two countries last week.
“Suddenly, Pakistan started firing around 1.15 am, injuring two of our personnel who later succumbed,” he said referring to the latest incident. It was targeted firing on forward duty points by Pakistan, he added.
Talking to reporters after the wreath laying ceremony of the deceased personnel at the force headquarters here, the senior BSF officer said the casualties were not the result of sniping but of sudden cross-border firing from Pakistan.
“We have strongly responded and in the coming days we will come to know about the damage suffered by Pakistan in the retaliatory action,” he said.
He said the BSF did not target civilian locations but Pakistani forces did.
We only targeted the locations that targeted us but Pakistan, on the other hand, started targeting civilian areas of Pargwal and Kanachak since wee hours resulting in civilian casualties and damage to civil property, Awtar said.
Asked about rumours suggesting the casualties were caused by personnel wearing ‘thermal camouflage suits’ to avoid detection, he said “I don’t think something like that happened in this case.”
“There is a need to study this case thoroughly. After every incident we do a detailed study and accordingly take precautionary measures for the future. This incident of cross-border firing will be probed as well,” the BSF IG said.
Earlier today, the bodies of two slain personnel were brought to the BSF headquarters where the wreath ceremony was held to bid farewell to them.
State Power Minister Sunil Sharma and former Health Minister Bali Bhagat joined senior BSF, police and civil officers to pay tributes to the martyrs, whose bodies were later sent to their hometowns in Uttar Pradesh.
Power Minister Sharma warned Pakistan to desist from such activities or get ready to be wiped out from the face of the earth.
“This time the central government is very determined and our message to Pakistan is to either change or get ready to be wiped out,” the Power minister said.
IGP Jammu Dr SD Singh Jamwal and other senior officers of BSF, civil and police administration were present at the wreath laying ceremony.
Jamwal said the police was fully prepared to deal with any type of situation arising out of the latest ceasefire violation by Pakistan which left two BSF personnel including an officer dead and 16 others, mostly civilians, injured.
“There is no need to panic…We are fully prepared to deal with any type of situation,” Jamwal told reporters on the sidelines of the wreath laying ceremony of the slain personnel at the BSF headquarters here.
Jamwal said the firing started in the wee hours in Pargwal area of Akhnoor sector and spread to nearby Kanachak and Khour sectors. The heavy shelling from across the border continued till 11.30 am, he added.
“Soon after the shelling started, police, Army and CRPF immediately pressed into service bullet proof vehicles to evacuate civilians to safer places,” he said.
Asked about reports of possible infiltration of suicide squads of terrorists, he said “we are prepared to deal with any situation”. The IGP said he found the morale of the border residents very high.
“Senior Superintendent of Police, Jammu, (Vivek Gupta) is on the spot and supervising the arrangements,” he said.
Last month, thousands of people residing along the IB in Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts had to flee their homes following intense shelling from Pakistan between May 15 and May 23 which left 12 people dead, including two BSF jawans and an infant, and scores of others injured.
After the DGMOs of the two countries spoke to each other, hope rekindled among border residents who had started returning to their homes but the latest incident triggered fresh concerns among them and the people in the affected areas started fleeing their homes.
The civilians and a police cop injured in Pakistan shelling and firing have been identified as Sudhakar Singh, 50, son of Kuldeep Singh R/o Kanachak, Vikram Singh alias Viku, 35 S/o Rattan Singh R/o Shama Chak, Pooja Devi, 32, wife of Braham Dutt R/o Shama Chak, Mohammad Zakir, a police constable, posted at Kanachak police station, Pala Ram, 52, son of Pipi Ram R/o Shama Chak, Vishal Kumar, 18, son of Gharu Ram R/o Jhiri, Rajinder Singh, 50, son of Sahib Singh R/o Shama Chak, Ram Paul, 35, son of Prakash Chand R/o Pindi, Pargwal, Karam Chand, 55, son of Sangara Ram R/o Pindi, Abhi, 13, son of Ram Lal R/o Pakhian, Kanachak, Ajay Kumar, 38 son of Puran Chand R/o Gol Pattan and Bohani Sharma, 5, R/o Amritsar, presently putting up at Marh.
Pak rockets break silence on IB
Ravinder Singh’s work is interrupted by the deafening sound of rockets pounding the fields and the roof of houses.
For a moment, he cannot believe it has happened to their village.
The peace-loving residents of Shama Chak, around 10 km from Jammu, had never seen a rain of deadly mortar shells and missiles, until now.
Pakistani troops today rained mortar shells on the village, leaving four people, including a BSF jawan, injured. The ear-piercing blasts could be heard in Jammu.
The attack left the villagers shocked and uncertain about their safety.
Singh says he has never seen such violence in his 52 years of life.
“We were lucky that most of the shells exploded in the open,” he said.
Singh is attending to his brother Rajinder, who received multiple splinter injuries after a shell exploded near him.
“A shell exploded near our house, leaving Rajinder and his friend Palla Ram wounded,” he says.
Singh says Ram is a BSF jawan and he had come to the village on leave two days ago.
The BSF personnel and the other injured people are recuperating at the Government Medical College Hospital here.
Vikram Singh (35), who also suffered splinter injuries, says the village came under attack from Pakistani troops at around 8:30 am.
Abhi Kumar, a Class 7 student, is among the injured undergoing treatment at the hospital.
He says several shells hit the main market, causing panic among the people.
Policeman Zakir Khan, undergoing treatment for splinter injuries, says he was deputed at Kanachak to stop people from going towards Mishriwala due to the lurking threat of mortar shelling.
Principal GMC Sunanda Raina said the staff has been alerted and all necessary arrangements made to ensure prompt treatment and free medicines to the injured.
Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta, senior Government functionaries and opposition leaders visited the injured at the hospital.
“Pakistan is a coward nation which cannot be trusted. We condemn repeated ceasefire violation,” Gupta said.