October 2016 News

BSF Returns Pak Fire, Kills 7 Rangers, One Terrorist On Jammu Border

21 October 2016
Times of India
Bharti Jain

New Delhi: The Border Security Force (BSF) said on Friday that it killed seven Pakistani Rangers personnel and a terrorist in retaliatory firing after a sniper attack by the Pakistani forces at Hiranagar in Kathua district of Jammu had injured an Indian trooper in the morning. After the Rangers injured BSF jawan Gurnam Singh in sniper fire and also tried to block attempts by his colleagues to evacuate him to safety, BSF launched an aggressive retaliation marked by intermittent small arms and 'area weapons' fire. 'We had to respond when they tried to prevent our efforts to rescue our injured jawan,' BSF additional director-general Arun Kumar told TOI. The death of the seven Pakistan Rangers, which comes after the September 29 surgical strikes on terror launchpads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, may delay the prospect of de-escalation of tension between the neighbours. The killing of the Rangers personnel was part of a larger drive to prevent infiltration, which has seen the Army and paramilitary troopers foil determined efforts by the Pakistan Army to help terrorists cross over to India. The BSF's response was part of the Modi government's decision to raise the cost for Pakistan for its continuing use of terrorism to hurt India. The BSF said that the fatalities suffered by the Rangers were confirmed by the Pakistani media, with a news report quoting a source listing the number of dead Pakistani Rangers personnel as five. The Indian cover-fire helped evacuate the injured constable who is being treated for bullet injuries at GMC, Jammu. His condition is critical. BSF's Kumar said that Gurnam and other BSF jawans were targeted because they had responded effectively to foil an attempt , captured by thermal imagers, to push terrorists into India on the intervening night of October 19 and 20 in the same area of Hiranagar. At least four terrorists were spotted as they moved along the international boundary. TOI has in its possession the 5.25 minute-video clip from thermal cameras installed in the area, which shows four men on the Pakistani side taking turns to fire at the Indian posts. The BSF team, which comprised Gurnam, respsonded with full force, forcing terrorists to retreat and killing one of them. According to a BSF officer, thermal imagery showed the men on the Pakistani side carrying one person back. This, he said, was the terrorist killed in retaliatory fire by BSF. Pakistan, on its part, reacted sharply to the casualty suffered on October 19-20 night, by summoning the Indian deputy high commissioner J P Singh to claim that a 'civilian' had been shot dead. They followed this by 'sniping' Gurnam at 9.35 am on Friday morning. BSF sources rebutted the claim about the death of a Pakistani civilian, claiming that images from thermal cameras show the men on the Pakistani side trying to infiltrate while firing at the Indian border posts. A BSF spokesperson in Jammu said injured constable Gurnam Singh was instrumental in repulsing terrorist infiltration on the intervening night of October 19 and 20. 'Pakistan Rangers also started unprovoked fire in Kathua, Samba and Paragwal sectors and were given a fitting and calibrated reply by BSF troops,' he said. BSF said the Rangers used heavy 82mm mortar fire in Hiranagar sector on Friday, to which the BSF retaliated. 'Firing stopped at around 5 pm,' the spokesperson said. Meanwhile, following a spurt in firing along the IB, the Kathua district administration identified safe locations where people living in forward areas can be moved.