War-like situation in 5 sectors on IB; 6 women among 19 injured

Several Pak posts hit, Ranger dead
Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, May 22: As a virtual war like situation prevailed along the International Border from RS Pura to Hiranagar sectors with Pakistani Rangers almost continuously shelling civilian areas, injuring 19 more civilians, including six women, nearly 40,000 people deserted their houses on the IB and shifted to safer areas including residences of their relatives and friends and relief camps set up by the administration at all places, albeit without any facilities.
The BSF has hit a number of Pakistani posts in which a Ranger was killed and three others were injured last night. However, there were reports that number of casualties and damages on Pakistan side was very high as compared to India.
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During past about one week when fresh skirmishes broke out between India and Pakistan, this was for the first time that the Rangers simultaneously targeted civilian population and forward posts of the BSF in five sectors of RS Pura, Arnia, Ramgarh, Samba and Hiranagar, covering all three districts of Jammu region including Jammu, Samba and Kathua, which share international boundary with Pakistan.
Official sources told the Excelsior that firing and shelling in RS Pura, Arnia and Ramgarh sectors started late last night and continued throughout the day today. It was on till late tonight when the reports last came in, with brief halts of some time. However, shelling in Samba and Hiranagar sectors started in the morning and continued till tonight with brief breaks. The BSF retaliated shelling and firing very effectively in all five sectors inflicting heavy damages on Pakistan side.
SSP Samba Anil Magotra said 13 civilians were injured in Ramgarh sector this evening when mortar shells fell on over a dozen houses. Five civilians including a woman were injured in shelling at RS Pura sector of Jammu district while another civilian got wounded in Hiranagar sector of Kathua district. Ten injured of Ramgarh have been referred to the Government Medical College, Jammu while two injured were admitted in the local hospital.
Number of cattle were killed and injured in Pakistan shelling and firing in all five sectors while several houses, cattle shed and other structures suffered extensive damage, sources said, adding that exact quantum of the damages would be ascertained only when the shelling stops as it was not possible for the Revenue authorities to visit forward villages in the virtual war like situation.
Such was intensity of the shelling that nearly 50 to 60 mortar shells fell in Arnia town during the day today. Pakistani Rangers were using both 82mm and 120mm mortar shells to hit the civilian areas. Some of the mortar shells even crossed Arnia town and fell in the fields.
SSP Jammu Vivek Gupta, SP Headquarters Romesh Kotwal, SDPO RS Pura Sourabh Parashar, SHO RS Pura Bishnesh Kumar and SHO Arnia Deepak Pathania visited forward areas of RS Pura and Arnia sectors and deployed Bullet-proof bunkers to evacuate the civilians in case of any eventuality.
Sources said entire Arnia town and its forward villages besides border belt of RS Pura nearly wore a deserted look as majority of population has shifted to safer areas, leaving only one member in one house to look after cattle and other goods. Only few people preferred to stay in the relief camps set up by the administration in the absence of any facilities and most of the people left for the houses of their relatives and friends.
Nearly 40,000 people have so far migrated from the border villages and the number could go up as there was no let up in shelling since majority of people in Hiranagar, Samba and Ramgarh sectors were still staying in their houses.
SSP Samba Anil Magotra after touring border areas of Samba sector along with Deputy Commissioner, Rajinder Singh Tara, said, Bullet-Proof bunkers have been stationed at various places to evacuate civilians, whenever required. However, he added, people in most of the villages continued to stay in their houses though some of them have left for safer areas especially after injuries caused to 13 civilians. Authorities have set up relief camps for the migrants.
“Today’s firing in all five Sectors including RS Pura, Arnia, Ramgarh, Samba and Hiranagar was very intense and it almost continued throughout the day with break of few minutes. People, who haven’t migrated, were confined to their houses or bunkers and many of them even couldn’t get a chance to cook the food,” sources said, describing situation on the borders as “virtual war like” with big bangs of heavy mortar shells explosion rocking the villages almost every 10 to 15 minutes. Apart from shelling, the Rangers have also resorted to firing with automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
An official report said Badwaal Post of the Pakistani Rangers in Charwah sector of Sialkot was hit along with other posts and bunkers in retaliatory shelling by the BSF in which a Ranger identified as Muhammad Akhtar was killed and three others identified as Sardar Hussain, Arshad Hussain and Yasir Khan, were seriously injured.
Several Pakistani Posts were hit at Charwah, Harpal and Bajra Garhi sectors of Sialkot in which some Rangers were killed or injured. Their posts were reduced to ashes.
Nearly one lakh population of Pakistan in Sialkot has fled their houses for safer areas. The BSF was targeting the forward posts of Rangers and not the civilian areas while the Rangers were directly hitting civilian population on the Indian side.
Large number of `Kullahs’ of Gujjars were burnt at Joura Farm in RS Pura sector after being hit by mortar shells but the people from there had already been evicted to safer areas in Agriculture Farm.
Police have been making announcements in all the border villages from RS Pura to Hiranagar asking people to either stay inside their houses and bunkers or leave for safer areas.
Additional SP Kathua Nissar Ahmad told the Excelsior after visiting forward areas of Hiranagar sector along with SDM and SDPO Border, that the shelling covered half of the Hiranagar sector but majority of people were safe. There was only one injury in the shelling, he added.
Schools vulnerable to Pakistani shelling have been closed along the borders as a precautionary measure, sources said, adding the schools in safer areas have been reserved for accommodating the border migrants.
The latest round of shelling started on May 15 when the BSF foiled two infiltration attempts by Pakistan-backed infiltrators in the Samba sector and intensified a day after Pakistan “pleading” with the force to stop firing after being pounded with heavy artillery that left a trooper dead across the border on May 20.
So far seven people, including two BSF jawans and an infant, have been killed and 18 others injured in Pakistani firing.
Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a spurt in Pakistani shelling and firing along the IB and the Line of Control (LoC) this year.
Over 700 such incidents have been reported this year, which have left a total of 39 people, including 18 security personnel, dead and scores injured.
Five civilians injured in RS Pura sector today have been identified as Thoru Ram, 68, S/o Sansar Singh R/o Raipur Saidan, Vipan Choudhary, 16, S/o Bawa Ram R/o Raipur Saidan, Des Raj, 52, S/o Lal Chand R/o Korotana Khurd, Sita Devi W/o Mohinder Kumar R/o Bidhipur and Narender Kumar, 35, S/o Tulsi Dass R/o Bidipur.
Thirteen civilians injured at village Keso in Ramgarh sector of Samba district were identified as Vikas S/o Kartar Chand, Raj Kumar S/o Gian Chand, Vimla Devi W/o Raj Kumar, Swarna Devi W/o Bachan Lal, Rekha Devi D/o Balwant Raj, Manohar Lal S/o Prakash Chand, Kamaljit Kour W/o Charanjit Singh, Bopinder Singh S/o Jasbir Singh R/o Nanga, Dheeraj Kundal S/o Raj Kumar, Amandeep Singh S/o Charan Singh, Khushpreet Kour D/o Kulbir Singh and Dalbir Kour W/o Kulbir Singh, all residents of Kesso and Abhiraj, 9, S/o Ramesh Lal R/o Khanpur.
Aman Singh S/o Naresh Singh R/o Bobiya was injured in Hiranagar sector.
This evening, Pakistan also violated ceasefire in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch. Indian side retaliated. No damage was reported on this side.


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