Heavy Shelling In RS Pura Leads To Migration

22 August 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: After another spell of heavy shelling and firing by the Rangers, this time in RS Pura sector along the International Border that left three civilians including a woman injured and several houses extensively damaged, nearly 3000 people migrated from six forward villages tonight and took shelter in the Government accommodation, which had been earmarked for them as a contingency plan, put into force by the administration. The civilians in border villages suffered heavy loss of property in more than five hours of mortars and automatic weapons firing by Pakistan Rangers in early hours of this morning, which created panic among the people leading to their migration. Official sources and eyewitnesses told the Excelsior that at least 3000 people from villages, falling within firing range of the Rangers, migrated from their houses and too shelter in the Government High School, Rangpur in Basspur Bungalow and Government Industrial Training Institute (ITI), RS Pura. These two Government buildings were among the accommodation identified by the district administration for the civilians to protect them from Pakistan firing as a part of contingency plan, enforced today after fresh round of heavy shelling and firing in RS Pura sector. The civil and police administration was camping in RS Pura and made arrangements for accommodating the border villagers, who started shifting from forward villages with the sunset and reached the Government buildings by 8 pm. Sources said only few elderly persons and youth apart from the cattle were left in the houses while rest all people in the villages, which were within the firing range of the Rangers and which were targeted from across the border early today, shifted to safer locations. The situation was very tense along the International Border in RS Pura and Arnia sectors though no shots had been fired after 6.30 am today. Sources said that Pakistani Rangers started heavy firing in RS Pura sector at 1.10 am targeting Korotana, Vidhipur Jattan, Abdullian, Tube Well No. 5 and surrounding forward villages in addition to BSF posts along the International Border. Within an hour of the firing, the Rangers started heavy shelling in forward areas directly targeting the villages, sources said, adding mortar shells and bullets of automatic and heavy weapons fell inside houses of the people causing injuries to three civilians and damage to several houses. Though almost all forward villages in RS Pura sector were targeted by the Rangers, Korotana Khurd and Vidhipur Jattan bore the brunt of shelling and firing from across the border that continued till 6.30 am. The BSF initially exercised restraint but later gave an effective and matching response to the Rangers to silence their guns, which were pounding the forward posts and villages with mortars and heavy weapons. There were, however, no casualties or damage on the BSF side. Three civilians, who were hit by splinters of mortar shells, have been identified as Ajay Chowdhary son of Kartar Chand, a resident of Korotana Khurd, Harnam Singh son of Munshi Ram and Rani Devi wife of Tara Chand, both residents of Vidhipur Jattan. They were evacuated from the site of firing and shifted to Sub District Hospital, RS Pura, where they were responding to the treatment. Nearly two dozen houses were extensively damage in the forward villages after being hit with mortar shells and bullets. Mortars had landed inside or on roofs of the houses of Joginder Singh and Om Prakash at Vidhipur Jattan and Kartar Chand at Korotana Khurd. 'Going by the intensity of mortar shelling and firing, the casualties were less as the people were well prepared for such a mischief from Pakistan side,' the locals said adding the damage would have been more had the people not confined themselves to deep inside the houses or in the bunkers. Locals said they were already prepared for such an onslaught from the Pakistan side after frequent shelling and firing in neighbouring adjacent sectors during the past few days. Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) RS Pura, Rajinder Sharma along with civil and police officials visited the spot and provided on spot compensation to the injured and some of the civilians, whose houses had been extensively damaged. Authorities were assessing damage caused by the shelling. According to people, such was intensity of mortar shelling and firing that sound of mortar explosions was heard right up to Miran Sahib town. Earlier in the morning, the administration had prepared a contingency plan for the border villagers if shelling and firing from the Pakistan side didn't stop. As per the contingency plan, the authorities have identified safer places including community halls, schools buildings and other such locations, where the border villagers were to be accommodated. The halls and buildings have been identified sector wise. Local civil and police officials of all sectors have been briefed about the locations, where the people were to be shifted in case shelling and firing aggravated. However, sources expressed confidence that a need wouldn't arise for shifting the people to safer areas. Authorities had already asked the people in forward areas to keep lights of their houses off after 6 pm and stay indoors after the sunset in Arnia and other areas. The people, who have constructed bunkers, were also using them in the night in the villages, where they had not migrated. The crops have also been worst hit this season in view of Pakistan firing and shelling especially in forward areas, where fields of the people directly fall within the firing range. The people in both RS Pura and Arnia sectors were not venturing into their fields in the border areas in anticipation of firing or shelling from the Pakistan side. The farmers said they were already suffering from delayed Monsoon and now Pakistan firing was likely to spoil their crop season. Another fortnight of firing would completely spoil the sowing season, the farmers said. Meanwhile, Arnia sector remained calm for the past three days with no gun shots heard from Pakistan side. The Line of Control (LoC) in twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri also remained peaceful since Wednesday night when Pakistan Army had resorted to heavy firing at village Mangalnarh in Manjakote sector of Rajouri district causing damage to a Mosque and two houses.