Heavy casualties, damage inflicted on Pak army in retaliation: MoD

A mortar shell explodes in Shahpur, Poonch. (Inset) Martyr Hari Bhakar.

Another jawan martyred, 3rd in a week
Several houses, structures damaged

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Mar 24: As another Army soldier was martyred, third during last one week, on the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri and Poonch districts, the Ministry of Defence said the Indian troops have inflicted heavy casualties and adequate damage on Pakistan side in retaliatory firing and to silence the Pakistani guns, which were targeting our civilian areas, located close to the LoC.
Several houses, cattle shed and other structures were damaged in Pakistan shelling and firing in Shahpur and Kirni areas of Poonch sector while there was tension among the people in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district in view of long range mortar shelling in forward villages.
An official statement issued by the Ministry of Defence confirmed heavy casualties and damage on Pakistan side in strong and effective retaliation by the Indian troops in both Poonch and Rajouri sectors.

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“Own troops retaliated in strong measure inflicting adequate damage and casualties to Pakistan army,” the MoD statement said.
This is for the first time during current hostilities between Indo-Pak troops on the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch sectors after February 26 Indian Air Force strike at Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in Balakote that the MoD has officially confirmed inflicting casualties to Pakistan army and damage to their infrastructure in retaliation.
Reliable sources too confirmed that Pakistan army has suffered several fatal and non-fatal casualties in Indian retaliation, besides huge infrastructural losses in terms of their forward posts and bunkers.
“Pakistan army was also in search of pushing trained militants into the Indian territory under the cover of shelling and firing but alert troops haven’t allowed their plans to succeed,” they said.
Meanwhile, an Indian Army jawan was seriously injured in Pakistani troops’ shelling and firing at Shahpur in Poonch sector late last night and was evacuated to the nearby Field Hospital for immediate medical treatment but he attained martyrdom there.
He has been identified as Grenadier Hari Bhakar, a resident of village Joosari in Makarana tehsil of Rajasthan’s Nagpur district. He is survived by his mother Kamla Devi.
After wreath laying ceremony, where Army officers and soldiers paid floral tributes to the martyr, his body was airlifted this afternoon from Udhampur to Jaipur for further transportation to his native town with full military honours.
“Grenadier Hari Bhakar was a brave soldier. The nation will always remain indebted to him for his supreme sacrifice,” a Defence spokesman said.
He said Pakistan army used heavy caliber weapons and rockets in targeting forward positions and civilian areas in Shahpur and Kirni areas of Poonch.
Reports said several houses, cattle sheds and other structures also suffered damage in Pakistan shelling at Shahpur and Kirni overnight but there were no civilian casualties as people survived by confining themselves to bunkers and deep inside the houses.
Meanwhile, Pakistan army at about 11.50 am violated ceasefire in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district by firing mortars and using small arms firing, targeting forward posts of the Army and civilian areas.
The Indian side retaliated strongly and effectively, sources said, adding that shelling and firing stopped after about one and a half hours and there was no casualty or damage on the Indian side.
On March 18, rifleman Karamjeet Singh was martyred in Pakistani firing in Rajouri district, while rifleman Yash Paul lost his life in unprovoked firing by Pakistan troops in the same sector on March 21.
The border skirmishes witnessed a spurt after India’s air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakote on February 26 in response to the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 44 CRPF jawans were martyred. Since then, Pakistan has been targeting Indian civilian areas to vent their frustration in view of killing of large number of militants at Jaish training camp at Balakote in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Four civilians, including three members of a family, have been killed and several injured as Pakistan, since then, has targeted dozens of villages in over 125 incidents of ceasefire violations along the LoC.
The year 2018 witnessed the highest number of ceasefire violations — 2,936 — by Pakistani troops in the last 15 years along the Indo-Pak border.
Pakistan continues to violate the 2003 ceasefire agreement.