Civilian killed as Pak resumes shelling on LoC

Army uniforms and badges recovered from bushes in Rajouri on Friday. —Excelsior/Amit
Army uniforms and badges recovered from bushes in Rajouri on Friday. —Excelsior/Amit

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Dec 30: After a lull of several days, Pakistan army today again pounded forward areas along Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch sector, violating ceasefire and killing a civilian while Indian troops retaliated effectively to silence the Pakistani guns amidst credible inputs by the Intelligence agencies that Pakistan army was trying to push militants into the Indian territory with under the cover of ceasefire violations.
Official sources told the Excelsior that troops all along the LoC have been put on very high alert following two ceasefire violations by Pakistan army in as many days in Poonch sector.
“Army was maintaining strict vigil to thwart any infiltration attempt by the militants on the LoC in view of Intelligence reports that some militants have been spotted at launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), waiting for an opportunity to sneak-in,’’ sources said, adding that Pakistani troops might have been resorting to mortar shelling and firing to facilitate the intrusion bids.
However, sources said, Army was on the high alert along the LoC in twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri and would thwart any attempt of infiltration into this side.
After November 23 meetings between Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan, the ceasefire violations had virtually come down to naught, both along LoC and International Border. However, two ceasefire violations in as many days, have put a question mark on the intentions of Pakistan.
Sources said Pakistani troops resorted to heavy shelling and firing with automatic weapons at Khari Karmara, Bigial Dara, Digwar and Gulpur areas, about four kilometers from Poonch town along the LoC at 4.45 pm today.
They fired several mortar shells targeting forward Indian posts and civilian areas along the LoC. The troops from this side retaliated effectively.
The people living along the LoC were caught unaware as for past several days, there was peace on the LoC. A youth Tanvir Ahmad son of Fazal Mohammad was trapped in the Pakistan firing and was killed due to mortar shell explosion near his house.
Exchange of heavy shelling between the two sides continued for over an hour. The shelling stopped at 6.05 pm, sources said, adding that body of the deceased civilian has been shifted to the hospital for post-mortem.
Some houses sustained minor damage in Pakistan shelling.
Sources said the shelling by Pakistan was completely unprovoked and was directly aimed at killing the civilians as several villages were pounded with 82mm mortar shells. Pakistan side was also reported to have suffered extensive damage in retaliatory firing by the Indian troops.
Yesterday, Pakistan army had opened firing in Khari Karmara forward area of Poonch sector in which an Indian Army jawan was injured.
On December 16, Pakistan had violated ceasefire by targeting Indian positions along the LoC in Balakote sector of Poonch district.
The ceasefire violation had come after a lull of over three weeks after the Indian troops had launched a counter- offensive against Pakistan on November 23 against the killing of three soldiers in the Machhil sector of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
In the cross-LoC attack by suspected Pakistani terrorists, three Indian soldiers were killed on November 22, with body of one of them being mutilated. Following the incident, Indian Army had vowed a heavy “retribution”.
The 2003 India-Pakistan ceasefire agreement has virtually become redundant with over 300 incidents of firing and shelling along the LoC and IB in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops.
Over 26 people, including 14 security personnel, have been killed in ceasefire violations since the surgical strike on terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Meanwhile, local people today spotted a number of Army ranks, badges, caps, uniforms and pithoos in the bushes behind the Chief Education Officer’s Office near Old Bus Stand at Rajouri this afternoon, leading to panic.
Police parties immediately launched search operation in Rajouri town and surroundings, sources said, adding that it didn’t appear to be a militancy-related incident and the Army uniforms seemed to have been thrown into the bushes to dispose of them.
“The uniforms were old and seemed to have been disposed of in the bushes. They were not linked to any kind of terror-related incident,’’ sources said and added that further investigations are being conducted into the recovery of uniforms and other material of the Army.