May 2017 News

More People Desert Houses On LoC As Pak Continues Heavy Shelling

17 May 2017
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: There has been no let up in migration from forward villages along Line of Control (LoC) in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district as majority of population from village Sher Makri shifted to the migrant camps while Pakistan army resorted to heavy shelling and firing in Balakote sector of Mendhar tehsil in Poonch district in wee hours of this morning. Official sources told the Excelsior that since the migration from villages, located close to LoC in Nowshera sector continued even though there was no major incident of Pakistani shelling and firing today, the administration has increased number of make shift migrant camps from four to five. The Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Nowshera was designated as fifth migrant camp and people arriving from the forward villages were being accommodated there. Four migrant camps already made operational included Government Boys Higher Secondary School, Nowshera, Government Middle School, Bawali, Government High School, Nonial and Government Middle School, Nonial. Sources said 435 more people, mainly hailing from village Sher Makri in Nowshera sector, migrated today to Nowshera town along with their belongings and were accommodated in the Government schools designated as migrant camps. With this, Sher Makri has become 11th village, which has almost been deserted by all the people. Majority of people from 10 border villages have already shifted to safer areas including the migrant camps and houses of their relatives. With arrival of 435 more civilians in the migrant camps today, total number of migrants, putting up in the camps, has reached 2180 comprising 540 families. Nearly 3000 to 4000 people from forward areas were believed to have left for the houses of their relatives in safer areas instead of taking shelter in the camps. Eleven border villages, which have been deserted by majority of population, included Khamba, Sarya, Bhawani, Kalsian, Manpur, Dhanaka, Khori, Ganiah, Pukharni, Anwas Bhandar and Sher Makri, all in Nowshera sector. According to official estimates, there were total of 3044 families in these forward villages comprising 11,547 people and majority of them have deserted the houses. However, in some cases, it has been observed that children and female members of the family have taken shelter either in the migrant camps or in the houses of their relatives while male and elderly people were still putting up there for safety of household goods. Three civilians including a woman and a girl child were killed and half a dozen others were injured while several houses have been damaged and cattle perished during about week- long heavy mortar shelling and firing by Pakistan army in Nowshera and Manjakote sectors of Rajouri district. Sources said Nowshera tehsil has 23 villages located close to the LoC and if people migrate from all of them, the administration has identified 50 migrant camps for lodging them. Meanwhile, Pakistan army again opened mortar shelling and firing along LoC in Balakote sector of Poonch district 12.50 am today targeting forward defence locations and civilian population. The Indian side retaliated effectively and heavy exchange of shelling and firing continued for about 40 minutes. However, there were no reports of any casualties or major damage on the Indian side. Casualties or damage, if any, on the other side couldn't be ascertained immediately. This was for the second time when Pakistan army has targeted Balakote sector during current round of hostilities between the two neighbours. Prior to this, Manjakote sector of Rajouri and Balakote sector of Poonch, which divide twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch, were targeted the same day on May 13. Yesterday evening, Pakistani troops had targeted Pukharni and surrounding villages in Nowshera sector by resorting to mortar shelling and firing for over two hours.