January 2000 News

LoC residents in J&K flee in fear

23 January 2000
The Pioneer
Binoo Joshi

Large-scale migration has begun from the villages close to the Pakistan international border and Line of Control (LoC) near Jammu in the wake of the intensified firing by Pakistani troops.

One villager was killed and four other wounded, triggering off panic among the border residents.

Meanwhile, the Indian Army has strongly denied the Pakistani allegation that Indian troops had attacked a Pakistani post and reiterated that it was the Pakistanis who had attacked the Indian post, suffering casualties in the process.

Maj. Gen P P S Bindra of the Army General Staff (Northern Command), based in Udhampur said what Pakistan was saying is an absolute lie. He said that Pakistans lies get exposed by the fact that five bodies of their soldiers were on our side.

The clashes between the Indian and Pakistani troops in Chammb sector on Saturday resulted in fierce firing from Pakistan hitting the border villages in Jammu region. One ex-servicemen Mr Puran Singh was killed and four others were wounded in Gagriyal village in Pallanwalla area. The shells were exploding in all other border villages in the area striking panic among the locals. They started fleeing in whatever means transport they could find to move out of the shelling zone.

The people were seen moving in trucks, buses, trolleys attached to horsecarts. Many residents told this reporter that this was not something new to them. Now it is almost a routine for us for the past eight months, said Mr Chand Ram, a farmer of Gagriyal village. He has lost count that how many times he had to flee the village in the past eight months. Though firing in the border areas in Jammu region is somewhat a routine but the impact has been fierce and deadly after Kargil conflict erupted last year.

Officials said that over 10,000 villagers from different villages in the border areas have come to the towns of Pallanwalla and Akhnoor seeking refuge in the Government buildings and also with their relatives and friends.

The officials hope that it is a temporary phase and the people would return to their homes in the next couple of days. But the locals say that it all depends on the situation on the borders and going by the current trends it is unpredictable.

Meanwhile, the police sources said that the two militants who had brought an arms consignment to blow up a transit camp of the Army in Jammu on Saturday, were killed in an encounter.

Tow Pakistanis belonging to Fidayeen or Suicide Squad of Harkat-ul-Mujahadeen, who had planned an attack on the transit camp of the Army at Bahu Fort road, were killed in an encounter with the police late last night.

According to police sources the two militants Mohammad Shafi and Omar Din who had fled at a routine police check post at Panama Chowk in Jammu leaving behind assault rifles, grenades and grenade launchers in the autorickshaw that they had boarded to take them to transit camp of the Indian Army. The two wearing Army uniforms fled the scene only to be arrested late evening from a hotel in Talab Khatikhan area in Jammu.

The two were taken for recovery of more arms when the police said that they attacked the police party accompanying them. The counter attack left both of them dead.

Prior to that, they had disclosed to their interrogators that they were to attack the transit camp of the Army at Bahu Fort road and inflict casualties on the Army personnel in the same fashion as their compatriots had done in Kashmir Valley and Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu region. There have been as many as 36 such attacks in the past seven months in which more than 80 officers and men of Army, paramilitary police and police were killed.

The Jammu police said that it is for the first time that plans of the Suicide Squad men of militant outfit ended without causing any damage.

The police denied the reports appearing in a section of press here that Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah was the target of this particular Suicide Squad.

The police fear that there may be more such men roaming in the city trying to strike on the Army or police installations before or on the Republic Day on January 26. Vigil has been mounted all over and fresh searches were being undertaken in almost all the suspected areas of hiding of militants in Jammu city which at present is home to at least 400,000 floating population.


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