December 2001 News

Border shelling, migration continue

30 December 2001
The Hindustan Times

Srinagar: An exchange of small arms and heavy weapons fire continued all along the International Border and the Line of Control in the Jammu sector on Sunday. The migration from border villages, too continued unabated. The firing was particularly heavy in the Pargwal area where the Pakistanis resorted to artillery fire. There were, however, no reports of any casualties on the Indian side. Pakistani troops reportedly also continued mortar shelling and firing in Siachen and Kargil sectors since Saturday night. Meanwhile, one army jawan was killed and at least three injured when the land mine they were laying in the Khawaja Seri area of Surnakot in Poonch district exploded early Sunday. Reports from the Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Punjab borders indicated that border residents continued to shift to ''safer'' areas. A large number of villagers living along the Jammu and Kashmir borders have already migrated. But those who have been left behind are now finding it difficult to get out in the face of the firing. The administration is finding it difficult to cope with the sheer numbers. According to some reports, the number of migrants in the entire Jammu sector has crossed the one-lakh mark. However, acting Chief Minister Ghulam Mohiuddin Shah pegs the figure at just a little over 50,000. Reports from Abohar, Punjab, said a team of officials headed by sub-divisional magistrate S.S. Gurjar on Sunday discussed arrangements for shifting residents of 30 villages falling within 16 km of the Indo-Pak border. Reports of installation of ''missiles'' by Pakistan and arrival of Indian Air Force fighters has triggered panic in Fazilka and around 22,000 inhabitants of 26 villages have moved out. In some villages like Korhianwala, people were even constructing their own bunkers. According to reports from Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan, the Army has told people living in villages located within 10 km from the International Border to move out. In Anoopgarh and Gharsana area, people of more than 50 villages have departed to other parts. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Telecommunication on Saturday issued orders to withdraw STD and ISD facilities of all telephone booths in border districts in view of reports that these were being used to pass on information about troop movements to Pakistan.


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