4 injured, extensive damage to property; 5 live shells destroyed

Sanjeev Pargal

A marriage hall damaged extensively at village Suhagpur in Arnia sector on Monday. More pics on page 5. -Excelsior/Rakesh
A marriage hall damaged extensively at village Suhagpur in Arnia sector on Monday. More pics on page 5. -Excelsior/Rakesh

JAMMU, Aug 11: Within three days of the high level flag meeting at Octroi Post in Suchetgarh sector, Rangers last night resorted to heavy mortar shelling and firing in several forward villages of Arnia sector injuring four persons including two BSF jawans and two civilians and causing extensive damage to civilian property, which included a marriage hall and houses of the people.
Forward villages like Suhagpur, Kudwal, Pindi, Treva and surroundings bore brunt of the damage with mortar shells and bullets raining in the houses forcing the people in entire border belt to spend sleepless night. Five live shells were traced this morning at village Treva, which the BSF and police destroyed later.
Pakistan claimed that their two civilians were killed at forward villages of Charwa and Khokhar in Sialkot district of Lahore province in retaliatory firing by the BSF jawans. They identified one of the woman killed in the firing as Hanifa Bibi.
Indian side said they were forced to retaliate to silence guns of the Rangers, which had been raining mortars and bullets causing heavy damage of civilian property including non-fatal casualties. They didn’t confirm any casualties on Pakistan side.
Official sources said Pakistan Rangers started heavy shelling and firing along the International Border (IB) in almost entire Arnia sector at 11.30 pm targeting forward posts of the BSF and civilian areas leading to panic among the people and sending grim reminder of last month’s extensive firing in the same villages in which a BSF jawan had lost his life while others including BSF jawans and civilians were injured and civilian property had suffered extensive damage.
A total of 11 BSF posts and 12 villages came under heavy firing from Pakistan side.
The people told visiting Excelsior team that they spent sleepless night as mortar shells and bullets were raining like anything and they felt the “war like situation’’.
“It was nothing less than a war. Mortars and bullets were hitting our houses. Our lives were at stake. We remembered God every moment. In the morning at about 7 am, we had a sigh of relief after the firing stopped,’’ said Ram Prakash, a civilian at village Suhagpur in Arnia sector.
Sources said several BSF posts in Arnia sector came under heavy firing from the Rangers but the BSF jawans retaliated effectively giving matching response to the enemy to silence their guns.
Two BSF jawans and two civilians were hit by splinters of mortar shells and bullets and sustained injuries. The injured BSF jawan have been identified as Sunil Kumar, 41, son of Jang Bahadur Singh, a resident of Uttar Pradesh and Bishnu, 24, son of Nandan Yadav R/o Jharkhand, both belonging to 192 battalion of the BSF.
The injured civilians included Rani Devi, 25 wife of Sewa Dass and Rishi Kumar, 22, son of Sat Pal, both residents of Suhagpur, Arnia.
The injured were shifted in the night to local hospital in Arnia from where they were referred to Government Medical College in Jammu, where they were responding to the treatment.
Sources said a marriage hall—Salaria Resorts was pounded with mortar shells by the Rangers at Suhagpur causing it extensive damage. The shells fell on roof of the Resorts and breaking the roof landed inside causing damage to window panes, walls and other parts of the building and furniture.
The houses of Gurcharan Singh son of Ram Singh, Capt Karnail Singh son of Lal Singh, Charan Dass son of Puran Chand at village Kudwal, Pindi also suffered extensive damage. Apart from them, mortar shells and bullets damaged walls, water tanks and other belongings of the people.
The villagers traced five live mortar shells at forward village of Treva, which had been fired by the Rangers but hadn’t exploded. Police parties led by SHO Arnia Inspector Kulbir Singh Choudhary rushed to the spot and cordoned off the area. Movement of the civilians was restricted in Treva.
Later, the Bomb Disposal Squads of BSF and police destroyed all five mortar shells. BSF and police personnel also carried out searches in all forward villages of Arnia to sanitize them and ensure that no live mortar shells remained in any of the area.
The firing had its impact on the forward village even during the day as the farmers didn’t venture out in the fields due to fear of Pakistan shelling. Last months, the villagers had to suspend cultivation of crops for several days as they were targeted by the Rangers with firing and shelling in their fields during the day time.
Senior officers of BSF and police today visited forward areas of Arnia sector and inter-acted with BSF jawans and local people. The BSF officers called upon the jawans to remain on high alert.
Significantly, no reasons could be ascertained behind unprovoked and indiscriminate firing by the Rangers on Indian posts and villages especially at a time when the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries were due to meet on August 24.
Moreover, BSF and Rangers had held a high level flag meeting at Octroi Post in Suchetgarh sector of RS Pura tehsil on Thursday during repatriation of BSF soldier Satyasheel Yadav in which the Rangers had given assurance of maintaining peace and tranquility on the borders.
Meanwhile, late tonight Pakistan Army violated ceasefire along the LoC at Panjani Nullah in Balakote sector of Poonch district. Troops foiled an infiltration attempt by the militants in Panjani Nullah.

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