LoC, IB tense; many families migrate

After shelling villagers migrating to safer areas in Mendhar area of Poonch. —Excelsior/Rahi Kapoor
After shelling villagers migrating to safer areas in Mendhar area of Poonch. —Excelsior/Rahi Kapoor

Schools closed within 5 kms of border

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Feb 27: Amidst escalating tension after strike by Pakistani aircrafts in Poonch- Rajouri sectors and heavy shelling along the Line of Control (LoC) in these twin border districts, many families have migrated to the safer zones while the Administration has closed schools up to 10 Plus 2 level along LoC and International Border.

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Reports from Poonch said that heavy shelling took place in Mendhar and Nowshera sector last night. Some houses also suffered damage. About 70-80 families have been shifted to safer zones while many families, specially women and children residing closer to the LoC have shifted to the houses of their relatives in Poonch and Rajouri sectors.
Though the senior officials in these districts were denying any migration or such orders issued to the border villagers but the Excelsior teams which paid visit to the affected area today talked to several villagers, who revealed that about 80 families from Pathri-Chhajla area of Mendhar were migrated to a Ziarat and were taking refuge there.
A migrated villager Mohd Hanief from Pathri revealed that due to continuous shelling since last evening, many families were trapped there at the village. He said about five cattle were killed and over dozens injured in Pak shelling. However, no loss of human life took place. Haji Ghulam Abbas said that about 80 families have taken refuse at Ziarat near Chhjjla and they are being provided food, bedding and shelter. He said from Govt side no facility has been provided so far.
SDPO Mendhar, Neeraj Padyaar, Tehsildar and Naib tehsildar had also gone to the village during this afternoon and asked the villagers to shift to the safer locations as they were being targeted by Pakistani Army since last night. The women and children from dozens of LoC villages in Mendhar, Balakote and parts of Poonch have shifted to the houses of their relatives located at safer places, away from the LoC.
The SDPO when contacted said that he had gone to the villages which were targeted by Pakistani Army last night and even during morning hours. He said after air raid by Pakistan and heavy shelling, the villagers were in panic. Many of them have shifted their women and children to the houses of their relatives. He said about 70-80 families have been shifted to the safer places as precautionary measures. While all others have been asked to stay inside or shift to the safer areas if the shelling escalates in their respective areas.
Not only in Mendhar, Balakote, Krishna Ghati, many people also along the LoC in Salotari, Jullas, Degwar, Khari Karmara, Qasba, Shahpur, Gali Pindi and Sawjian area in Poonch have either shifted to the houses of the relatives at their own or sent their children and women there amidst panic. In Nowshera, Jhangar, Kalsian, Pukhrni, Sher Makri, Lam, Ladoka and parts of Sunderbani, some family members have shifted to the safer locations after heavy shelling and Pakistan air raid today.
Reports from Khour and Palllanwalla areas of Akhnoor sector said that though Administration had issued no direct instructions about migration after tension along border, but villagers from Panjtoot, Pallanwalla, Jogwan, Gigdyal, Badhwal, Chhanni, Sainth and Hamirpur area have been asked to remain alert. Many villagers shifted to Khour and other safer locations after air strike during morning but many of them returned home late in the evening. The children and women of many families have shifted to their relatives.
The people from border villages of Pargwal, Kanachak, Marh, R S Pura, Suchetgarh, Arnia and Ramgarh have started flushing out water from the bunkers along the borders and also their cleanliness so that in case of air raid or shelling, they could take refuge there. There was mud and water in many bunkers due to recent rains and they have started restoration/ maintenance work for emergency purpose.
Deputy Commissioner Kathua, Rohit Khajuria said that he had ordered closure of all the schools within 6 kms of area from the International Border on Thursday. denied any migration from the border area of Hiranagar, Mareen, Bobiya or Rajpura etc but said that people have been directed to stay inside and shift to the 19 identified camps/ shelters for their safe stay and food in case of emergency. He said nodal officers have also been appointed for these camps.
Deputy Commissioner, Samba, Sarita Chouhan also denied any migration from IB area in Samba and Ramgarh, but maintained that as precautionary measures, schools within 5 kms of IB have been closed for tomorrow. She said that some locations have been identified for the temporary camps for border migrants. Similar instructions have been issued by the Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Ramesh Kumar for all type of schools and nodal officers of the temporary camps.