All Border Villages From Kathua To Arnia Rattled With Heavy Shelling, 6 Injured

25 October 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Entire International Border from Arnia to Kathua sector was tonight rattled with heavy mortar shelling and firing causing huge devastation of property forcing the people to leave their houses amidst continued firing and take shelter in the religious places and Government buildings already identified for them by the administration while many others left for the houses of their relatives finding no let up in the fresh escalated tensions between India and Pakistan, which today entered into third day. Six civilians were injured after their house was directly hit by a mortar in forward village of Bobiya in Hiranagar sector at 11 pm today. More than two dozen villages and over 30 BSF posts came under intense shelling from Pakistan side from Arnia to Kathua sector along the International Border (IB) at 7 pm today with several mortar shells of 81mm and 82 mm landing inside the populated villages, houses of the people and the fields, forcing the BSF to retaliate effectively to silence the Pakistani guns. 'Heavy exchange of mortar shelling and firing between the two sides was going on in entire Samba, Hiranagar and Kathua sectors but the BSF didn't retaliate in Arnia, where only two mortar shells landed in the fields in forward village of Nanga at 8.10 pm,' official sources told the Excelsior. Panic gripped border villagers of Arnia after firing of two mortar shells by the Rangers as this sector had suffered very badly during past about two years due to Pakistan firing and shelling in which a number of civilians have been killed and injured besides the property has suffered extensive damage. Sources said a house was directly hit by mortar shell in Bobiya area of Hiranagar sector at 11 pm tonight causing injuries to six civilians. The injured have been identified as Om Prakash S-o Balak Ram, Ratno Devi W-o Balak Ram, Bachno Devi W-o Bansi Lal, Balak Ram S-o Ranja Ram, Rajesh Kumar S-o Om Prakash and Subash Devi W-o Om Prakash. They were evacuated in bullet-proof bunker by police and shifted to Hiranagar hospital. Police parties headed by Additional SP Kathua Nassir Ahmad and SDPO Border Diwakar Singh were camping in the border areas. In the midst of firing, the people from forward villages of Bobiya and Patti, falling between Samba and Hiranagar sectors deserted their houses in tractor-trolleys and other available modes of transport at 8 pm and took shelter in Santoshi Mata ji temple at village Kunthal in Hiranagar. Several other people left for the houses of their relatives. People from forward villages of Mawa in Samba sector, where several houses had been damaged, civilians injured and cattle killed during past two days, took shelter at village Rehian in a Government building while the people of forward villages of Chalyari and Chechwal in Samba sectors shifted to Government Higher Secondary School, Rajpura in Samba. In these villages also, some of the people left for the house of their relatives. Earlier in the day, the civil administration of Samba had reserved Government Middle and Higher Secondary Schools, Rajpura for the border dwellers of Chalyari, Chechwal, Mangu Chak and Khowara, Narsingh Ji temple Ghagwal for the border people of Chak Dulma, Chak Sadda and Sadwal and Trali Mandir for the people of village Regal and surroundings. Sources said while Arnia sector remained peaceful till midnight tonight after firing of two mortar shells in forward village of Nanga, all forward villages of Samba, Hiranagar and Kathua sectors were under intense shelling and firing till midnight tonight with BSF giving effective retaliation. The forward villages, where massive shelling and firing was reported included Paharpur, Chor Gali, Pansar, Manyari, Bobiya, Chandre Chak, Patti and surroundings in Hiranagar and Kathua sector, Benglard, Mangu Chak, Mawa, Chalyari, Chechwal, Regal, Khowara, Sadoh and Sadho Camp in Samba sector. Altogether more than two dozen border villages and 30 BSF posts were being targeted by the Rangers with mortars and heavy fire arms. Sources said the mortar shells continued to land in the populated villages including houses of the people, triggering panic among the people and migration from several areas. Administration has already advised the people of forward areas to stay indoors or shift to safer areas in the Government buildings identified for them if they feel so. Police have deployed all bullet-proof bunkers at their command in border areas of Samba, Hiranagar and Kathua to evacuate the civilians injured in the firing. Pakistani shelling and firing had started on Friday evening when the labourers were repairing border fencing at Mangu Chak in Samba sector and this was third consecutive night of shelling and firing, which has been described by the BSF as totally unprovoked. Earlier, two civilians including a woman, who were injured last midnight in the firing, were undergoing treatment in the Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu. With these injuries, one civilian has been killed and seven others injured in Pakistan shelling and firing in Samba sector while two civilians have been killed on Pakistan side in retaliatory firing by the BSF opposite Mawa in Samba sector. Sources said that the Rangers targeted 14 forward BSF posts and over a dozen forward villages in Samba sector using 81mm and 82 mm mortar shells and heavy fire arms in the shelling and firing that continued throughout the last night and ended around 5 am today. Mawa, Sadoh, Sadoh Camp, Chilyari, Chechwal, Bobiya, Suchetgarh, Patti, Mangu Chak, Regal and their surrounding villages bore brunt of the heavy Pakistani shelling and firing during last night. The Rangers, apart from the BSF posts, directly targeted the border dwellers prompting the BSF to retaliate equally and effectively to silence the Pakistani guns. Sources said several mortar shells directly hit the houses causing injuries to Kailasho Devi and Pritam Kumar in Mangu Chak, who were evacuated in a bullet-proof bunker by police teams headed by SHO Samba Inspector Sanjeev Chib and shifted to hospital in the midnight in critical condition. Two cattle were killed and half a dozen were injured in overnight shelling while 22 houses and some cattle sheds suffered extensive damage after being hit by the mortar shells and bullets. The direct targeting of the border villages has prompted BSF, police and civil administration to issue an advisory to the people of border areas to stay indoors especially after the evening hours. However, the frightened people were not venturing out of their houses even during the day time though it was peak season for them to work in the fields. Sources said the BSF has lodged strong protest with Pakistan over their act of completely unprovoked shelling and firing in the border villages. IG BSF, Jammu Frontiers, Rakesh Sharma described the firing as completely unprovoked and charged Pakistan with violation ceasefire agreement and the Director General level declaration between BSF and Rangers, which was signed in New Delhi during four days talks from September 9 to 12. Reiterating that the BSF never initiates firing, Sharma said it was Pakistan, which has always started firing and shelling targeting not only the BSF posts but even the border population directly, thus, violating peace and tranquility on the International Border. 'We never initiate firing but we give very effective reply to them,' he added. Sharma said the BSF troops have been put on very high alert all along 192 kilometers long International Boundary to give effective reply to any misadventure by the Pakistani Rangers and thwart attempts by the militants to infiltrate into the Indian territory under the cover of Pakistani shelling and firing. A visit to the border villages revealed that the people putting up in the forward areas were very disturbed over frequent spells of shelling and firing. 'After the Director General level talks between BSF and Rangers in which both sides had agreed to maintain peace and tranquility on the International Border, we had started anticipating good days and were even working in our fields right up to the Zero Line. However, all our dreams were shattered with Pakistan breaking the agreement in less than one and half months,' said a group of villagers in Mawa standing behind cover of a wall to protect themselves from shelling and firing. A woman, Mala Devi was highly critical of both Central and State Governments saying both have left the border dwellers at the mercy of Pakistan. 'We were promised of concrete bunkers for our protection and 5 marla plots in safer areas. But nothing has been given to us. Our cattle were getting killed and houses and cattle sheds damaged in the shelling and firing but we are being paid very meager compensation, which was not even one-tenth of the losses suffered by us,' she lamented. Not only this, another villager Rakesh Kumar said, their standing crops were also getting destroyed due to landing of mortar shells in the fields and our inability to work in the fields due to fresh fear of Pakistan shelling and firing. The villagers pointed out that nearly 60 to 70 mortar shells of 81mm and 82mm were fired only last night by the Pakistani Rangers in Samba sector. Sources said several mortar shells were lying in the fields live. Security forces and police have defused several live mortar shells during the past two days. Sources said senior officers of civil and police administration visited the border villages and assured the people of all possible assistance from their side.