Woman, 2 children killed; Major among 4 injured in Pak shelling

A house extensively damaged in Mendhar sector on Friday. -Excelsior/Rahi Kapoor
A house extensively damaged in Mendhar sector on Friday. -Excelsior/Rahi Kapoor

Mid-night migration from LoC villages
3 Pak army men among 7 reported dead

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Mar 1: A virtual war like situation erupted along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch sector tonight with Pak army again using artillery fires and long range mortar shells in several forward villages of Lower Krishna Ghati sector, killing three members of a family including a woman and her two children, one of them just nine month old and injuring four others including two civilians and two Army men, one of them a Major. At least seven persons including three army troops have been killed on Pakistan side in retaliatory action by the Indian troops. Click here to watch video
Pakistani troops continued shelling and firing in Balakote, Mendhar, Mankote and Nowshera sectors in Rajouri and Poonch districts during the day but opened up Lower Krishna Ghati sector tonight targeting forward villages of Jhalas, Salhutri, Bera and surroundings, hitting civilian population with long range mortar shells and artillery fires.
SSP Poonch Romesh Angral, who reached the spot immediately, told the Excelsior that a mortar shell exploded inside the house of Mohammad Younis at Jhalas, about nine kilometers from Poonch in Lower Krishna Ghati sector, killing three members of his family on the spot and injuring another. One more woman was injured in Salhutri.
Indian Army immediately retaliated Pakistan’s shelling and firing. There were reports of seven casualties on Pakistan side including three army personnel.
Two Army personnel were injured in the Pakistani firing. They have been identified as Major A Vajpayee and Havaldar Ajay Kumar. They too received gunshot injuries in Jhalas area and were immediately evacuated from the site of firing and admitted to the hospital.
Three members of a family killed in the shelling have been identified as Rabina Kousar, 23 wife of Mohammad Younis, her son Fazaan, 5 and daughter Shabeena, 9 month old. Younis was seriously injured. Another woman, Pervaiz Akhter, 22, wife of Mohammad Ameen R/o Slahutri was injured.
Police teams shifted the dead and injured civilians to District Hospital in Poonch. Bodies of the dead will be handed over to their family members tomorrow after post-mortem while condition of injured was stated to be serious.
Shelling and firing with long range weapons continued till late tonight when the reports last came in.
Almost during the midnight, people from Jhalas, Salhutri, Bera and surrounding villages started migration to safer areas amid panic in view of heavy shelling and firing, which created virtually war like situation in the forward villages of Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch district.
Earlier in the day, for second consecutive day today, Pakistan continued heavy mortar shelling and firing in five major Sectors on the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts causing heavy damages to number of houses and cattle sheds, leading to migration of families from forward villages of Mendhar sector especially Chajla, which was hit by several mortar shells yesterday. An Army jawan was injured in the shelling at Nowshera sector.
Sources said that Pakistan army continued heavy mortar shelling and firing in Balakote and Mendhar sectors of Poonch district throughout the last night and several shells landed on houses and other structures of the people. However, the civilians had narrow escape but number of houses, cattle sheds and some other structures were extensively damaged.
People in Balakote and Mendhar said they spent sleepless night as shells continued to land in civilian areas with big bangs. Pakistan used long range mortar shells to target civilian areas.
Indian Army retaliated firing and shelling at all the places effectively and there were reports that Pakistan has suffered heavy damages in retaliatory action of the troops.
Though there were no fresh casualties in overnight shelling, sources said the damage caused to houses and other structures will be assessed when the firing stopped. After lull during the day, Pakistan army again shelled Mendhar, Balakote, Mankote and Krishna Ghati sectors in Poonch district from 6 pm, prompting heavy Indian retaliations.
People remained confined to their houses and bunkers and were unable to move out in view of heavy shelling.
Meanwhile, number of families from village Chajla and surroundings in Mendhar sector have shifted to safer areas in view of heavy shelling and firing from the Pakistan side during the past two days.
Yesterday, a girl was killed and two others including an Army jawan, who had come to his house on leave, were injured in mortar shelling in Mendhar sector. Yesterday, mortar shells had landed close to Mendhar town, leading to closure of the market and Government offices.
At about 4.15 pm, Pakistan army also violated ceasefire at Janghar, Laroka and adjacent villages in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district in which an Army jawan, Dhamber Bahadur was injured. He was evacuated from the site of firing and shifted to hospital.
Pakistani troops had used 105 mm Howitzer artillery fired to target civilian areas deep inside the LoC in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district.
Meanwhile, amid tensions along the Line of Control, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh today visited forward posts in Akhnoor sector of Jammu district to review the operational preparedness and the prevailing security situation, sources said.
Lt Gen Singh was accompanied by the White Knight Corps Commander Lt Gen Paramjit Singh.
The Army Commander was briefed on the actions taken to meet the challenges of increased ceasefire violations, an official handout said.
Lt Gen Singh appreciated the measures and Standard Operating Procedures instituted by the units and formations in their areas of responsibility to minimize the casualties due to the ceasefire violations and the infiltration bids.
Meanwhile, Indian and Pakistani troops traded heavy mortar shelling at Kamalkote area of Uri in the morning and evening injuring one person and causing damage to two houses in the area.
The firing started at midnight and continued till 9: 30 am. One person Nazir Ahmad son of Nazir Ahmad of Gagi Madianpora Kamalkote was injured in the shelling. He was shifted to hospital where he is under treatment.
The intense shelling partially damaged at least two houses and one of them belonged to Farooq Ahmad son of Mohammad Sikander of Madya village of Kamalkote.
Some of the residents of the village were shifted to safer places by the administration.
The shelling again started this evening and was going on.