Tension simmers after Pak forces pound BSF

Two civilians killed; Sharif calls for DGMOs' meeting

Tension simmers after  Pak forces pound BSF

Tension between India and Pakistan simmered on Saturday as Pakistani troops pounded Indian forward posts and villages along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir killing two civilians and injuring six others, including a paramilitary BSF trooper.

Pakistani Rangers resorted to heavy shelling of 82-mm mortar and firing of automatic weaponry on at least two dozen Border Outposts and civilian areas along the IB in Arnia and R S Pura sub-sectors of Jammu district from 12:30 AM Friday, sources said.

“The BSF troops responded with equal calibre weapons to the Pakistani firing, which resulted in heavy exchange of fire that continued till 7 AM. Akram Hussain, a civilian, and his son Aslam were killed and three other members of the same family were injured when a Pakistani shell hit their house in Jora area,” sources said. 

Two more civilians and a BSF personnel were also injured in the Pakistani shelling.There has been rising friction between the two neighbours owing to India’s decision to call off foreign secretary-level talks.  

Islamabad has proposed a meeting between the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) of India and Pakistan to discuss the ceasefire violations along the LoC and the IB. New Delhi, however, is yet to respond.

 “The DGMOs of both countries should meet immediately and discuss ways and means to stop the current spate of firing along the working boundary,” Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan Prime Minister M Nawaz Sharif’s advisor on foreign affairs and national security, told journalists in Islamabad. “We are also sending a proposal to India for the meeting between the two DGMOs,” Aziz was quoted in a newspaper.

Though India is yet to take a call on Pakistan’s proposal for a meeting between the DGMOs, the sources in New Delhi said that they might talk over phone next Tuesday.

Reports said that in the wake of heavy shelling, authorities evacuated civilians living close to the border in Arnia and R S Pura to safe areas.
 Divisional Commissioner (Jammu Zone) Shant Manu confirmed that at least 3,000 people from seven to eight villages, falling within the firing range of the Pakistani troops, were shifted to safe shelters.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said that the Indian Army and the BSF guarding the LoC and the IB had been effectively responding to the ceasefire violations. 

“This is a fact that of late, these ceasefire violations by Pakistan have increased. But let everybody be assured that both our Army and BSF, who are respectively guarding the LoC and the International Border, are fully vigilant,” PTI  quoted Jaitley.

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