No Let Up In Shelling: Over 3000 Migrate In Samba, Hiranagar

26 October 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: As nearly 3000 people migrated from border villages of Samba sector finding no let up in heavy mortar shelling and firing by Pakistani Rangers, the administration today opened about 20 Government buildings and religious places to accommodate the migrants while 30 BSF posts and 24 villages remained under constant shelling and firing intermittently throughout the last night till early hours of this morning. As reported, six civilians were last night injured in Pakistani shelling at Bobiya, Hiranagar. It was after this incident that the people from forward villages of Hiranagar sector also started migration while the border dwellers of Samba sector had started leaving their houses overnight. Meanwhile, Sector Commanders of BSF and Rangers spoke on hotline this afternoon after which Pakistan said it will not open firing on the borders. The BSF also assured Pakistan that it will not retaliate. There was no firing or shelling on the border tonight. Official sources told the Excelsior that authorities have opened eight Government schools in Hiranagar sector and made announcements for the border dwellers to take shelter there if they desire to escape from Pakistan shelling and firing along the International Border (IB). Authorities in Samba have also identified over a dozen Government buildings to accommodate border migrants, where the people had started pouring in last night to take shelter from the Pakistani shelling. Late this evening, people from majority of border villages in Samba left their houses and took shelter in the Government buildings and religious places. The people from Benglard took shelter at local Community Hall while the border dwellers of Faqira Chak and Nanga reached Kali Bari Community Centre and higher secondary school, Ramgarh respectively. People from Mawa have started camping at local Government school while those from Mangu Chak and Kullian took shelter at Rehian middle school. The border dwellers of Regal and Chalyari have taken shelter in Government higher secondary school, Rajpura. Six places, where the migrants have been putting up, included Rehian high school, Narsingh Ji temple, Kalibari Community Centre and Government schools at Ghagwal, Raipur and Rajpura. The Government schools earmarked for the border dwellers of Hiranagar sector included to higher secondary schools in Hiranagar town, Harya Chak middle school, Barnairi middle school, Chakra higher secondary school, Kunthal middle school, Gadyal middle school and Chan Khatrian middle school. However, people from forward villages of Bobiya and Patti, who were hit hard by the shelling, have taken shelter in Santoshi Mata ji temple at Kunthal. Sources said police administration in Samba and Kathua districts have deployed their all bullet-proof bunkers in the border villages to evacuate civilians in case of any casualties but the people were highly critical of civil and police administration whom they charged with leaving them at the mercy of Pakistan. 'We are migrating on our own by hiring tractor-trolleys, matadors, load carriers, other modes of transport or even on foot. Authorities have made no arrangements for us. They only evacuate the injured and that too after a long time. Our miseries are untold. We are suffering a lot,' said a group of border villagers in Santoshi Mata ji temple at Kunthal. Almost similar is the situation in all border villages, where people lamented callous attitude of civil and police administration for not coming to their aid at this crucial hour of crisis when Pakistan was raining mortars and bullets directly on their houses, cattle sheds and fields. 'Our houses have been destroyed. Our cattle have died or injured. Our crops were finished. We are unable to work in the fields. This is starvation like situation for us,' the border dwellers said, adding that the Ministers and officials visit us only to assess the damages and then nothing follows. Even the border people, who have taken shelter in the migrant camps were no better off. At Kali Bari Community Centre, the migrants complained that they were either not being offered or very little food was offered to them. 'There are no facilities required to stay. We have only what we have brought from our houses. No one has visited us to listen to our plight,' the people said charging the State Government with completely ignoring the border dwellers. Sixth battalion of Army distributed some light refreshment to the border migrants. Meanwhile, there was no let up in heavy mortar shelling and firing by the Rangers in Ramgarh, Samba, Hiranagar and Kathua sectors throughout the last night. The shelling and firing intermittently continued till 7 am. Nearly 24 villages and 30 BSF posts were targeted by the Rangers, who expanded area of mortar shelling and firing from Samba to entire Hiranagar, Kathua and parts of Ramgarh sectors last night. However, after firing two heavy mortar shells in Arnia sector, the Rangers didn't fire again in the sector. The BSF retaliated Pakistan's firing and shelling at all the places very effectively giving strong response to Pakistan. However, the BSF didn't retaliate in Arnia sector, where only two shells were fired by the Rangers. Reports said that a number of houses, cattle sheds and other structure of the people were damaged in the shelling from Ramgarh to Kathua sectors. Three cattle were killed and half a dozen injured in the overnight shelling. An ex-serviceman Satpal son of Munshi Ram R-o Khanwal in Samba sector was injured in the shelling and has been admitted in the Military Hospital, Samba. Almost all forward villages, numbering over two dozens were rattled with heavy shelling and firing overnight from Ramgarh to Kathua sectors. Deafening sound of mortar shell explosions was heard as far as Jammu-Pathankot National Highway. The people, who didn't migrate, had to spend sleepless nights in their houses. The people in the villages, who have not migrated, were not venturing out of their houses even during the day anticipating shelling as Pakistan was directly targeting the civilian areas. The people feared that their standing crops would be destroyed if the shelling didn't stop immediately. 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 sectors, 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.