Heavy shelling in Mendhar, children rescued in bunkers
PoK leaders instigating people on LoC: Army Comdr
JAMMU, Sept 14: At least five Pakistan army personnel were killed; their two communication towers and three forward posts destroyed and seven to eight jawans were injured in retaliatory shelling and firing by the Indian troops along the Line of Control (LoC) forcing Pakistan army to raise white flags and call for ceasefire to pick-up dead bodies and injured.
As tensions escalated on the LoC in twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri, Northern Command chief Lt Gen Ranbir Singh accompanied by GOC Nagrota Corps Lt Gen Paramjit Singh Sangha visited forward posts on the LoC to review situation and boost morale of the troops.
After the visit, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said: “By our calibrated proactive approach, we have been able to attain complete moral ascendancy over the enemy (Pakistan). All infiltration attempts along the LoC have been foiled”.
Students of nearly half a dozen schools were trapped in heavy shelling and firing by the Pakistani troops in Mendhar and Balakote sectors of Poonch district and had to be rescued by the Army in their bullet-proof bunkers. Students and civilians had narrow escape in Pakistan shelling in which nearly a dozen houses were damaged and some cattle perished but there were no civilian casualties.
Pakistan army was reported to have used artillery fire and long range 120mm mortars to target civilian locations in Mendhar and Balakote sectors of Poonch district, which was evident from the fact that mortar shells and bullets landed deep inside the Indian territory but the civilians had narrow escape as they had hidden themselves inside houses and bunkers.
A video showed Pakistan army raising white flags in Hajipir sector of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) calling for ceasefire by the Indian troops as their two troopers were killed in retaliatory firing by India. The video showed Pakistan army personnel taking away dead bodies of their colleagues.
Sources said the Indian Army stopped firing and allowed Pakistani troops to take bodies of their colleagues to safer areas. They added that Pakistan army had been resorting to heavy shelling and firing from the Hajipir sector targeting defence posts and civilian locations on the Indian side and also trying to facilitate infiltration attempts by the militants into Jammu and Kashmir.
The Indian Army today released a 1.47-minute video of the incident which showed Pakistan military personnel raising the white flag to retrieve the bodies of their soldiers.
Indian troops killed a Pakistani Sepoy Ghulam Rasool of their Punjab Regiment in Hajipir sector of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the sources said.
They said the deceased soldier was a ‘Punjabi Muslim’ who belonged to Bahawalnagar in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Initially, Pakistani army personnel, under the cover of intense ceasefire violations, attempted to recover the body, but another Pakistani ‘Punjabi Muslim’ soldier was killed while doing so, the sources said, adding after repeated attempts, the Pakistani army could not recover the bodies of their troops.
Pakistan’s Punjab Regiment soldiers raised the white flag and tried to recover the bodies, the sources said. White flag is raised to signal peace and truce.
The sources said the Indian Army respects the dead and so permitted the Pakistanis to retrieve the bodies of their soldiers.
Earlier, the Pakistan army had refused to take back the bodies of five to seven troops and intruders who were killed during an infiltration attempt by the Pakistani Border Action Team (BAT) team on the intervening night of July 31-August 1 in Keran sector of Kupwara district.
Sources claimed that the Pakistani army disowns Kashmiris, Northern Light Infantry soldiers and terrorists, but not ‘Punjabi Muslim’ soldiers. Pakistan treats Kashmiris and Northern Light Infantry soldiers as “cannon fodder”, they said.
According to reports, three more Pakistan army personnel were reported to have been killed across Mendhar, Balakote and Poonch sectors in retaliatory firing and shelling by the Indian Army.
“The Pakistani troopers were killed when their two forward posts caught fire in the Indian retaliatory firing. The Indian action was necessitated as Pakistani posts were directly targeting civilian locations in Mendhar and Balakote posing threat to innocent lives including school children,” they said, adding that shelling and firing from Pakistan side stopped after their forward posts were destroyed.
Pakistan army started shelling and firing at 9.50 am in Balakote and Mendhar sectors of Poonch district. Intense shelling was reported from forward villages of Drana, Malikpur, Chajla, Padri, Sandot, Langiot, Behrot, Panjani, Suhala, Darhuti, Dhar Galloon, Dulat and surrounding villages with people, who had gone for work in the fields and other areas, rushing back to houses, bunkers and other nearest available space.
School children in Pinewood Army School, Government School Sandot, Govt School Behrot, Government School Hondi Masjid, Primary School Police Post and some other educational institutions in Mendhar and Balakote were trapped in Pakistan shelling and firing.
Army pressed its bullet-proof bunkers into service and rescued school children from shelling-hit villages. All school children reached safely to their houses, sources said.
A tipper and a Maruti Van were damaged in Pakistan shelling in Mendhar.
The shelling stopped at 12.45 pm after fierce and very effective reply by the Indian troops in which two communication towers and three posts of Pakistan army were destroyed. At least seven to eight Pakistan army personnel have been injured in the Indian action.
Meanwhile, Northern Command chief Lt Gen Ranbir Singh accompanied by GOC 16 Corps Lt Gen Paramjit Singh Sangha today visited shelling-hit and other forward areas and posts in Rajouri and Sunderbani sectors.
Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said with calibrated and proactive approach, the Army has been able to attain complete moral ascendancy over the enemy (Pakistan). All infiltration attempts along the LoC have been foiled, he added.
“There are a large number of leaders across LoC to instigate people of PoK. It’s actually trying to use them as cannon fodder for attempts to come close to LoC. Should there be any misadventure, they will be given a befitting response,” he said.
He visited the forward posts along the LoC and exhorted all ranks to remain vigilant to counter the nefarious designs of the adversary, officials said.
Lt Gen Ranbir Singh reviewed the operational preparedness and the prevalent security situation during his visit to forward areas.
The Commander praised the synergy between the Army, police and the civil administration in maintaining law and order situation.
The GOC-in-C, Northern Command, was briefed by the Commanders on ground about the current operational situation, prevailing security scenario and the preparedness of formations and units in dealing with the emerging threat.
Lt Gen Ranbir Singh also interacted with the locals and told them that the Government is striving to bring peace, stability and development to the region.
During his visit to the sectors, the Army Commander interacted with the soldiers and complimented them for their unwavering dedication to duty, selfless devotion and high standard of professionalism.
He was appreciative of the measures and Standard Operating Procedures instituted by the units and formations in their areas of responsibility, the spokesman said, adding that the need to be prepared for effectively meeting current and emerging security challenge was reinforced.
He exhorted all ranks to remain vigilant to counter the nefarious designs of the adversary and directed that the response to any enemy misadventure should be strong and effective.
The Army Commander appreciated the preparedness and most importantly, the morale of all soldiers.