October 2016 News

Pak Pounds Army Posts, Villages Along LoC; India Retaliates

19 October 2016
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Pakistan army today again resorted to heavy mortar shelling and firing at Tarkundi and Manjakote in Bhimber Gali sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch targeting even the civilian areas, leading to panic among the people living in forward areas. Pakistan army used 82mm mortars and automatic weapons in shelling and firing that started at Tarkundi area of Balakote sector of Poonch district and Manjakote sector of Rajouri simultaneously at 4.30 pm, drawing very effective and adequate response from the Indian side. Heavy exchange of shelling and firing lasted about three and half hours. It stopped around 8 pm and since then no fresh shelling or firing was reported from any part of the LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts. Some of the mortar shells fell close to civilian population at Naika Panjgrain, Rajdhani and Khori Narh in Manjakote area of Rajouri district. Sources said Pakistan Army directly fired 82mm mortars targeting Army posts and civilian population. However, no casualties had been reported so far on the Indian side though there was panic among the people living in forward villages. Casualties, if any, on the other side were not known. Meanwhile, the district administration of Rajouri was expected to take a decision tomorrow on closure of schools along the LoC in Manjakote and surrounding sectors after assessing the situation afresh. An Army jawan Sudheesh Kumar was killed in the same Tarkundi area of Balakote sector on October 16. He was manning the post when Pakistan army had resorted to heavy shelling and firing, leading to his on spot death. The martyr soldier hailed from Sumbal, Uttar Pradesh. Heavy shelling and firing along the LoC between Indo-Pak troops had started within a couple of days of surgical strikes carried out by the Indian Army inside Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) on September 29, leading to migration from Pallanwalla in Jammu district, Nowshera in Rajouri district and some areas along the International Border (IB) in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts though there was no firing and shelling on the IB. However, the migrants had returned after a lull of about a week on the LoC. While on the one side, there was massive tension along Indo-Pak LoC with shelling and firing becoming a routine, it was altogether a different scenario along Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh, where Sino-Indian troops today conducted second round of 'joint tactical exercises'. The first 'joint tactical exercises' were held on February 6 this year. The joint exercises between the Sino-Indian troops in Eastern Ladakh came amid hectic diplomatic manoeuvring between the two countries over a host of issues like Nuclear Suppliers Group and designation of Masood Azhar as a terrorist by the United Nations. During the day long exercise on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR), a fictitious situation of earthquake striking an Indian border village was painted. Thereafter joint teams carried out rescue operations, evacuation and rendering of medical assistance. This was done as a sequel to the first Joint Exercise held on February 6 in the area of Border Personnel Meeting Hut at Chushul Garrison of Eastern Ladakh, along with Chinese troops of Moldo Garrison. Sources said that in February, the exercise was held in the Chinese side and this time in the Indian side along the line of Actual Control. The Indian team for the exercise was led by Brigadier R S Raman and that of the Chinese was led by Sr Col Fan Jun. The exercise was a great success and has not only refined the drills to provide succour to the border population in case of natural calamity but has also increased the level of trust and cooperation between the two border guarding forces along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh, the Army said in a statement here. The joint exercise, compliments the Hand in Hand series of the India-China joint exercises and the effort of both the nations to enhance cooperation and maintain peace and tranquility along the border areas of India and China, it said. This year's edition of 'Hand in Hand' will be held at Aundh, near Pune in Maharashtra, from November 15 to 27.