BSF trooper, four civilians killed in Pak firing

BSF trooper, four civilians killed in Pak firing

Border Security Force officers and jawans carry the coffin of Sitaram Upadhyay during his wreath-laying ceremony, at BSF HQ Campus Paloura, in Jammu, on Friday. Upadhyay was killed in ceasefire violation by Pakistani army along the international border. PTI

A BSF trooper and four civilians were killed, while dozens of others were injured, after Pakistan rangers fired mortars at border out posts (BoPs) and civilian areas along the International Border (IB) in R S Pura and Arnia sub-sectors of Jammu on Friday.

A BSF official said Pakistan rangers increased the arch of mortar shelling to R S Pura, Bishnah and Arnia sectors of Jammu by resorting to heavy mortar shelling and firing since 1 am on Friday.

A BSF constable, identified as 27-year-old Sita Ram Upadhyay of the 192 battalion, was killed. He was shifted to a hospital in Jammu where he was declared brought dead at 3:20 am, he said.

A couple, identified as Tarsem Lal and his wife Manjeet Kour, were also killed and 12 others injured due to heavy shelling and firing by Pakistan in Chandu Chak village of R S Pura, the official said.

Two more civilians, who were grievously injured in Pakistan's shelling in Trewa village in Arnia sub-sector, were declared dead at a government medical college hospital in Jammu.

The injured, including an assistant sub-inspector of the BSF, have been admitted to various hospitals in Jammu. BSF troops guarding the borderline retaliated and intermittent exchanges were going on, he said.

Inspector General of the BSF (Jammu Frontier) Ram Awtar said the situation was "tense" and that the paramilitary force was responding to Pakistan appropriately, causing them huge damage.

Reports said big explosions of mortars could be heard even in Jammu city through the night. This has led to panic among the border dwellers as they fear the repeat of the situation in January, when a number of civilians were killed and injured in Pakistan shelling on the IB.

Officials said schools within a five kilometre radius of the border have been closed as a preventive measure. Authorities have activated safe shelters and other facilities and alerted the police for evacuation in case of escalation in the exchange of shelling and firing.

The incidents of ceasefire violations and attempts to infiltrate the IB have increased in the last few days as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to reach Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday as part of an official visit.

On May 15, a 28-year-old BSF man was killed in cross-border shelling along the IB in Samba sector while two paramilitary troopers were injured in similar shelling on Friday.

The latest death has taken the number of persons killed in over 700 incidents of Pakistani shelling along the IB and Line of Control (LoC) this year in the State to 38, the highest this year. The deceased included 18 security personnel and 20 civilians.