Pak too suffers several casualties
JAMMU, May 18: While India announced ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir during holy month of Ramzan, Pakistani Rangers violated ceasefire on the International Border rattling up entire Arnia and RS Pura sectors in this district with heavy mortars and automatic weapons early today, killing five persons including a BSF jawan and four civilians, one of them a couple and injuring 15 others, two of them seriously. A number of cattle also perished in the shelling while several houses suffered extensive damage.
Pakistan was reported to have suffered casualties in retaliatory firing by the BSF. Several posts of the Rangers were hit in the BSF action.
Fresh ceasefire violations by Pakistan on the International Border came just a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources said Pakistani Rangers lobbed heavy mortars and opened firing using automatic and semi-automatic weapons targeting forward posts of BSF and civilian areas in entire RS Pura and Arnia sectors at 3.15 am. The villages were hit by one after another mortar shells.
The BSF jawans immediately retaliated, leading to heavy exchanges, which continued till 10.30 am today. While heavy shelling and firing from Pakistan side stopped at 10.30 am, intermittent shelling and firing in both the sectors continued till late this afternoon.
Sensing gravity of situation, authorities immediately ordered closure of all educational institutions within three kilometers from the International Border in RS Pura and Arnia sectors.
A BSF jawan was hit by splinters of mortar shell at village Jabowal in Arnia sector and attained martyrdom. He has been identified as Sita Ram Upadhyaya, 27, son of Brijnandan Upadhyaya R/o Pirtand, Giridh in Jharkhand. He is survived by his wife and two children, including a 3 year old son and one year old daughter.
A couple was killed at village Chandu Chak in RS Pura sector at about 8 am when a mortar shell fell inside their house and exploded. They were identified as Tarsem Lal, 50, and his wife Manjeet Kour, 45.
People alleged that they were not evacuated timely in the bullet-proof bunkers by police or security forces, a result of which they succumbed to their injuries in the house before being shifted to the hospital.
This led to tension in the village and after heavy shelling and firing stopped around 10.30 am, the people took the bodies in tractor-trolley and marched to RS Pura town where they held massive demonstration against civil and police administration alleging that bullet-proof bunkers or ambulances hadn’t been deployed to evacuate the injured civilians, otherwise, the couple might have survived.
SSP Jammu Vivek Gupta, SP Headquarters Romesh Kotwal, SDPO RS Pura Sourabh Parashar and SHO Inspector Bishnesh Kumar along with civil officers rushed to the spot and talked to the people. After about an hour long negotiations, the protesters lifted dharna and bodies were taken to the hospital for post-mortem.
Another mortar shell took the lives of two civilians at Rangpur Treva in Arnia sector. A shell exploded in the house of Satpal Singh, 60, son of Amarnath R/o Rangpur Treva, killing him on spot. Another civilian Jagmohan, 42, son of Sadhu Ram, who was passing near the house carrying milk, was also killed in the same explosion.
Sources said a number of cattle were killed and injured in Pakistan shelling while several houses and other structures were damaged. Exact losses were being ascertained by the authorities.
SDPO R S Pura Sourabh Parashar and SHO Arnia Inspector Deepak Pathania evacuated the some people trapped in shelling in forward areas of Arnia in vehicles.
Bodies of four civilians were handed over to their family members for cremation after post-mortem. Body of BSF martyr Sita Ram Upadhyaya was taken to BSF Headquarters Paloura, where floral tributes were paid to the jawan by Housing and Urban Development Minister Sat Sharma, IGP BSF Ram Awatar and other senior police and BSF officers. The body will be sent to Jharkhand with full honours tomorrow.
A day before, a BSF jawan was martyred in Samba sector while yesterday, another BSF soldier was injured.
Reports said that Pakistani army suffered significant number of casualties including the Rangers in retaliatory action by the BSF in their Sialkot sector.
Panic, meanwhile, gripped the villagers living all along the International Border in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts with some of the families already shifting to the houses of their relatives and friends anticipating January like ceasefire violations when a number of civilians were killed and injured while there was huge loss of property and cattle.
This is for the first time since January 20 i.e. after nearly four months that Pakistani Rangers have directly targeted the civilian areas.
The people, who were still putting up in shelling affected villages of RS Pura and Arnia sectors, didn’t venture out of their houses. Some of them have taken shelter in the bunkers. However, majority of population don’t have bunkers and took shelter inside the houses.
Speaking to reporters after wreath laying ceremony of BSF martyr at BSF Headquarters at Paloura, IG BSF, Jammu Frontiers, Ram Awatar said: “if they (the Pakistani Rangers) are targeting us, they are getting an appropriate reply. We were expecting such an incident because the harvesting season is over and once this season is over, they always do such mischief’’. He added that the BSF was fully prepared to meet with any eventuality on the borders.
Awatar said situation was tense on the borders but added that Indian deaths have been avenged.
Meanwhile, authorities have set up six camps for the border dwellers, if there was migration from the forward areas in R S Pura. Camps have also been set up in Arnia.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta and Health & Medical Education Minister Dr Devender Kumar Manyal along with State BJP chief Ravinder Raina visited injured in the Government Medical College, Jammu and directed for all possible medical, diet and other facilities to the firing victims. GMC Jammu Principal Dr Sunanda Raina and Medical Superintendent Dr Dara Singh briefed the Ministers about treatment being provided to the injured.
PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Minister Sham Choudhary visited shelling-hit villages in RS Pura to take stock of the situation and facilities to the people. He directed the administration to deploy bullet-proof bunkers and ambulances in the forward areas to evacuate the injured, when required. He directed that the people shouldn’t suffer.
Injured have been identified as BSF ASI Des Raj son of Ram Chander R/o Rajasthan, Harbans Lal son of Isher Dass, Raman Gupta son of Faqir Chand, both residents of Rangpur Treva, Rajesh Kumar son of Gurbachan Singh R/o Ward No. 13, Arnia, Krishan Lal son of Sardar Ram R/o Rangpur Treva, Ashwani Kumar son of Swaran Singh R/o Kotla Camp, Treva, Waryam Singh son of Faqir Chand R/o Kotla Camp, Sapna Choudhary daughter of Gurprem Singh R/o Gourian Chak Treva, Renu Devi wife of Shamsher Lal R/o Rangpur Treva, Farooq Ali son of Hasam Din R/o Jora Farm, Pyara Ram son of Guria Ram R/o Samka, Krishan Lal son of Baba Ram R/o Bidhipur, Seema Devi wife of Tarsem Lal R/o Gulabgarh Basti, Reena wife of Shamsher Lal R/o Treva and Radhika daughter of Romesh Lal R/o Chandu Chak.