May 2017 News

Pak Trains Guns On Civilians: 2 Killed, 9 Injured

13 May 2017
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: A virtual war like situation prevailed in entire Nowshera sector along Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district during the day today with Pakistan army training their guns and heavy 120mm and 82mm mortars, on innocent and unarmed civilians, killing two and injuring four others, leading to migration from several forward villages. Still, hundreds of villagers were trapped in their houses as they couldn't be evacuated in view of Pakistan shelling on the fleet of buses, heading towards villages for evacuation. Five Army personnel were injured in Pakistan shelling at Manjakote sector. Following intense shelling in Nowshera sector, the second major ceasefire violation in same area during past three days, the divisional administration has alerted authorities in four other border districts of Jammu region including Kathua, Samba, Jammu and Poonch to remain in preparatory mode for any kind of eventuality and use the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to meet with the situation, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Dr Mandeep K Bhandari, who spoke to the Deputy Commissioners of all five border districts following tense situation on the frontiers, told the Excelsior. District Rajouri administration has closed all schools within five kilometers radius from the LoC in Nowshera sector for an indefinite period and made three Government schools operational as migrant camps. It has identified 28 other camps for lodging the border dwellers if the need arises. Official sources said Pakistan army started heavy shelling using 120mm and 82mm mortars and firing with automatic and semi automatic weapons in most parts of Nowshera sector at 7.20 am today directly targeting the civilian locations including houses, Bus Stands etc. The Indian side immediately gave a befitting response to Pakistan, leading to heavy exchanges. A prominent villager Raj Kumar alias Lalli said on phone that within 15 minutes, 86 mortar shells landed in Bhawani village alone, which spoke intensity of mortar firing with Pakistan army virtually converting entire Nowshera sector into a war zone. The people didn't get a chance to shift to safer areas as within few minutes, heavy mortars started landing at Sariya, Khamba, Bhawani, Kalsian, Mahanpur, Dhanaka, Ganya, Baba Khori, Pukharni and surrounding villages in Nowshera sector. A total of 26 villages of Nowshera sector and nine villages of Manjakote sector in Rajouri district were badly affected by the mortar shelling and firing. A mortar shell fell inside the house of Haji Tufail Hussain at 9.30 am near Jhanghar Bus Stand of Nowshera sector and exploded with a bang blasting major part of the house and leaving two members of the family dead and three others injured. Haji son of Abdul Sattar, who was working in Saudi Arabia, had recently come to the house on vacation. His grand- daughter Asiya Bi, 10, was also killed in the firing. Asiya Bi was daughter of Tufail's daughter and was living in Poonch. She had come to the house of grandparents. Haji's wife Zaitoon Begum and two other relatives Sonia Kauser and Nasreem Begum were injured in the shelling. While Zaitoon was referred to the Government Medical College, Jammu, Sonia and Nasreem were admitted in Nowshera. Rekha Devi wife of Satnam was also injured in mortar shelling at Jhanghar and was hospitalized. A report said that five Army jawans were injured in mortar shelling at Moli Morha in Keri sector of Rajouri district at 9.30 am. The injured have been indentified as Dilip Patel, AB Pradhan, Lakhan Singh, Bhagerao P and L K Yadav. They have been hospitalized in stable condition. A woman was killed and her husband was injured in Pakistan shelling in Nowshera sector on Thursday. District administration of Rajouri including Deputy Commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary camped at Nowshera sector monitoring evacuation operation of civilians, trapped in forward villages due to continued Pakistani shelling in which a number of houses, cattle shed and others structures were damaged while some cattle appeared to have perished. The Divisional Commiss-ioner, Jammu, said the administration managed to evacuate about 743 civilians in buses and other modes of transport and shifted them to safer areas including the camps set up for them in Nowshera town till late tonight. He added that the buses on way to evacuate civilians from forward villages were shelled at village Nonihal after which the evacuation operation was halted for some time but was resumed at 6.45 pm when the shelling stopped. 'Our entire administration headed by the DC Rajouri is camping in Nowshera to evacuate civilians and assist the migrants, who have reached the camps,' Dr Bhandari said, adding that he spoke to the DCs of Jammu, Samba, Kathua and Poonch districts also and called upon them to be ready for any kind of situation developing on the borders. He said the administration has put in place the SOP in all five districts of Jammu region in place. Sources said since there was no break in mortar shelling during the day, the administration found it difficult to evacuate the civilians. Authorities have made three migrant camps operational in Nowshera town, all of which were Government schools and have kept 28 others in readiness, if there was influx of migration from the forward villages. However, as soon as the mortar shelling stopped around 6.45 pm, the authorities pressed buses, bunkers and other available modes of transport into service and evacuated a total of 743 people while many others left to the houses of their relatives and migrant camps on their own in safer areas. Jhanghar village, which was worst affected by shelling, was deserted by entire population by late tonight, sources said, adding the people fled with their bag and baggage as soon as the shelling stopped. People also deserted their houses in several other border villages. The district administration, Rajouri has ordered closure of 87 schools along LoC till further orders in view of recurrent cross-border shelling in the villages located in the forward areas of the district. 'Around 87 schools with total enrollment of 4457 students in areas along LoC affected by shelling from across the border in district Rajouri will remain closed till further orders,' sources said. They said 51 schools have been closed which included two Higher Secondary Schools and five High Schools with a total enrolment of 2829 students in Nowshera while 36 schools located in Dandesar, Doongi and Manjakote will also remain closed for next three days. They included two schools in Dandesar zone, 18 in Doongi and 16 in Manjakote zone. During the ceasefire violation, at least two schools were damaged in Jhanghar area of Nowshera zone today while a mortar shell hit Middle School Thathiali in Manjakote area. Sources said the decision to close the schools in the area has been taken to ensure safety of the students and the staff. Meanwhile, the district administration has made arrangements for functioning of Anganwari centres and informal classes at relief camps. Reports said that parts of forest areas caught fire in Jhanghar area of Nowshera sector due to mortar shelling. Meanwhile, amid border tension, Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa today toured some areas along the Line of Control, two weeks after a similar visit which was followed by the beheading of two Indian soldiers. Bajwa visited troops deployed along the LoC in Nikial sector, Pakistan army's media wing Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement. He was briefed about the ground situation by a commander.