India and Pakistani troops Thursday exchanged heavy gun fire and mortar shells along the International Border (IB) in Jammu with BSF accusing Pakistani troops of firing on 130 villages and 60 Border Out Posts overnight in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts.
“The firing and shelling continued intermittently during the day till 1100 hours in Pargwal, Kanachak, Arnia and Ramgarh sub-sectors. Pakistan Rangers shelled almost the entire 192-km border during the night,” BSF sources said.
A BSF spokesman said Pakistani Rangers continued with unprovoked mortar shelling and heavy automatic weapon firing on BSF posts all along International Border (IB) since 2045 hours last night”.
“Almost the whole stretch of International Border in Samba, Hiranagar, Ramgarh, Arnia, R S Pura, Kanachak and Pargwal (Sub-sectors) was affected in the firing,” he said.
“About 60 BSF border outposts were affected by the fire from Pakistan side,” the spokesman said, adding BSF troops retaliated in a “calibrated manner”.
At least eight people have been killed and 80 others, including nine security men, injured in Pakistani firing since October 1.
According to officials, over 130 border villages have been hit by mortar shelling and firing by Pakistan since last night. “Of these 57 hamlets were hit in Kathua district, over 50 in Jammu and 20 in Samba district”.
“12 people including 3 BSF jawans were injured in shelling and firing,” District Magistrate, Jammu, Ajeet Kumar Sahu said.
Four of the civilians were injured in Kanachak belt, two in Samba, two in Chadka and 3 BSF jawans in Pindi and one in other place.
However, the guns were silent along Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district.
Over 30,000 people have been evacuated from border hamlets along IB in Jammu, Kathua and Samba to safer places in view of the shelling, the DM said, adding that relief camps have been set up for them.
“Over 20,000 people have migrated from border hamlets in Jammu,” Sahu said.
In Kathua and Samba, over 7,000 and 3,000 border people have migrated, officials said.
As per the District officials border people from 113 hamlet located close to the IB in Jammu, Samba and Kathua had migrated and taken refugee either at shelter camps or with their relatives.
“As many as over 50 border hamlets and Arnia town along IB in Jammu district is now fully or partially deserted. People have migrated from these villages,” Sahu said.
Like him, District Magistrate of Samba, Mubarak Singh said that people from over 20 border hamlets along IB in Samba have shifted, thereby, deserting the villages.
As District Magistrate of Kathua, Shahid Iqbal people from 43 border villages have been shifted in view of heavy shelling across IB in Hiranagar sector.
“The Government has set up 24 camps to accommodate evacuees from the border areas,” Divisional
Commissioner Jammu, Shantu Manu said.
“Crisis management groups has been activated in the borderline from Poonch to Kathua district,” IGP Jammu Rajesh Kumar said.
He said that one each group will be deployed in all these places along the border to evacuate people and provide them food and shelter.
“All civilian departments besides Police are part of this group which undertake evacuation in emergency situation,” he added.