5 killed, 34 injured in heavy shelling by Pak

5 killed, 34 injured in heavy shelling by Pak

On Eid eve, Islamabad targets civilian areas along IB

5 killed, 34 injured in heavy shelling by Pak

In one of the worst ceasefire violations in recent years, five civilians were killed and 34 injured when Pakistani troops fired on Indian border outposts and civilian areas along the International Border (IB) in Jammu on Sunday night, the eve of Eid-ul-Adha.

Even as India condemned the attack on civilian areas, Pakistan violated ceasefire at two places on Monday evening. The first one at Shahpur sector was reported early evening while another at Mankote in Poonch district was reported at 9 pm, becoming the 13th ceasefire violation in the last four days. 

A defence spokes-person said India retaliated to the unprovoked firing.

Reports on the Sunday night attack said Pakistani Rangers targeted forward Indian positions and civilian areas in the Arnia belt of Jammu district. They resorted to heavy firing with automatic and semi-automatic weapons and 81mm mortar shells at 10 pm. 

A PTI report quoting Sub-Divisional Police Officer of R S Pura Tehsil, Devender Singh, said five villagers were killed and 34 injured in several hamlets. “A large number of houses were damaged and livestock perished in the firing and shelling,” said Singh, who led a team of police personnel and shifted the injured to hospital during the shelling. “People living in critical zones along the border will be evacuated,” he added.

“The shelling and the intermittent firing continued throughout the night. The sound of heavy shelling was heard in more than 5 km area along the border, spreading fear and panic,” eyewitnesses told Deccan Herald over phone.

“The terrified villagers rushed towards their houses and took shelter in safer areas, including bunkers. Shelling from the Pakistani side was so heavy that mortar shells have fallen inside the Arnia bus stand which is located more than 4 km away from the IB,” they added.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley reacted sharply to the ceasefire violations saying that Indian troops were “fully ready” and were responding to each of the provocations. “Pakistan must realise that the kind of environment it is generating is not going to help in normalising relations. The onus of creating a positive environment is on Pakistan which is utterly failing to do so,” he said.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said: “Pakistan should realise that the situation in India has changed now.”

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who flew to Jammu immediately after his Eid prayers in Srinagar, strongly condemned the shelling. “They (the Pakistani leadership) have nothing else to speak, but only Kashmir.

 Whenever they go abroad, they try to raise only Kashmir issue, but every time they miserably fail to get international attention. The cross-border shelling is an indication of their frustration,” he told reporters after meeting civilians injured in the shelling at the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu.

The latest ceasefire violation by Rangers came on a day when both India and Pakistan celebrated Eid-ul-Adha festival. 

On October 3, Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire four times by shelling forward areas and villages along the LoC and IB in Gulmarg sector of north Kashmir and Poonch and Jammu sectors in Jammu region in which a girl was killed and six people injured. Score of people were injured and houses were damaged in similar violations on October 1, 2 and 3.

Though India and Pakistan have agreed for a ceasefire along the IB as well as the LoC, there is an increase in the number of ceasefire violations by Pakistan since 2013 when 347 cases – 199 across the LoC and the rest along the undisputed IB. In 2014, there are 118 ceasefire violations across the LoC till Monday.

The rise in firing from across the border could be due to the fact that Pakistan would like to sneak in as many infiltrators as possible before the winter snowfall, said an Army officer. An attempt would definitely be made to create an atmosphere of unrest in Jammu and Kashmir before the Assembly polls, which is due within a couple of months.