Violations trigger panic along border

Violations trigger panic along border

Pakistani firing and shelling have triggered panic among those living in the border areas. There have been more than a dozen violations by Pakistani troops over the last 13 days along the Indo-Pak border, and 20 such violations this month. 

However, Saturday’s firing and shelling were the heaviest this year along the IB in Jammu frontier. The number of ceasefire violations has dramatically increased since the Narendra Modi government cancelled the foreign secretary-level talks following a meeting between Kashmiri separatists and Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi.

“We live under constant fear of death. We don’t know when a mortar bomb shell fired by Pakistani forces could hit and kill us,” said Om Prakash, a resident of Karotona Khurd.

“We want ceasefire initiated by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003 to stay, so that we can live in peace. In the last two years, there has been a massive spike in ceasefire violations that have made our life hell,” Preetu Devi of Abdullian village said.

Prakash, who had a close shave after a 82-mm mortar bomb shell tore open the roof-top of his house and landed in his room, said, “we are rattled by frequent shelling and firing by Pakistani forces. The villagers are at their wit’s end and they fear that the border truce would collapse, putting their lives in peril.”

Harnam Singh (40) and Rani Devi (43) of the Vidipur village, located barely 2 km away from the international border (IB) and Ajay (20) of Karotona Khurd, however, could not escape the violence as splinters of shells injured them on Thursday night.

In the neighbouring village of Jora Farm, a pall of gloom descended on the Gujjar community dominated border hamlet, where a mortar bomb brutally killed Akram Hussain and his 13-year-old son Aslam while three others were injured.

The residents of 27 border hamlets along the IB have either migrated or were evacuated, leaving behind one or two members of each family to take care of their house and cattle.

“We have sent our entire families to safe shelters set up by the government in R S Pura. We stayed back to take care of our homes and cattle,” Hans Raj of Abdullian village said.The condition of most of the villages close to the border was similar. 

Jammu’s border belt of R S Pura and Arnia has been turned into a battle zone. Pakistan Rangers have targeted over 30-40 border outposts and over 20-odd villages during 16 ceasefire violations in the past 12 days, drawing strong retaliation from BSF. 

“We are giving a befitting reply. The morale of Jawans is high,” BSF officer Vinod Yadav said, adding that troops have been alerted in view of the vicious design of Pak Rangers. Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO), R S Pura, Devender Singh, who is supervising the evacuation, said that firing has been going on for past 13 days ceaselessly.

Three people have been killed, 15 injured including 6 jawans in the ceasefire violations, shelling and firing by Pak troops along Indo-Pak border in past fortnight.

“We have made arrangements for safe shelters for the border people. They have been shifted at put in schools and ITI here,” R S Pura Tehsildar Manoj Kumar said. Jammu Divisional Commissioner Shant Manu said that 3,000 people from various border villages have been evacuated and shifted in safe shelters till on Saturday. 

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