4 more killed in Jammu border firing

Mehbooba, Nirmal anguished; Omar wants NSA to call his Pak counterpart; High alert sounded in several border areas, schools closed ‘until further orders’

Yogesh Sagotra/ Sumit Bhargav/ Arvind Sharma
Jammu/Rajouri, Publish Date: Jan 19 2018 11:22PM | Updated Date: Jan 20 2018 1:09AM
4 more killed in Jammu border firingPhoto: Mir Imran/GK

The Indian and Pakistani troops continued to trade heavy gunfire and shelling along the international border in Jammu for the second consecutive day Friday, leaving two civilians, a BSF man and an army soldier dead, officials said.

An official said that BSF head constable Jagpal Singh died in RS Pura, while army soldier from Madras regiment, identified as Sam Abhram, died in Sunderbani in cross-border firing.

Two civilians—Bachno Devi, wife of Jeet Raj and 20-year-old Sahil Choudary (both from Suchetgarh)—died in Suchetgarh border firing, the official said.       

Nearly 22 people have sustained injuries in firing and shelling in different border areas of Jammu province, he said

The fresh exchange of fire took place a day after the director general of the BSF said that the situation on the borders in Jammu and Kashmir was “tense.”

On Thursday, a BSF soldier and three civilians were killed and at least five other civilians injured in firing on both sides of the divide, according to an official source. While a BSF soldier and a minor girl were killed in RS Pura and Arnia areas, Pakistan said that two women were killed in “unprovoked” Indian firing that also wounded five civilians, including three women.

On Friday morning, the armies of two countries traded heavy gunfire in RS Pura and Ramgarh sectors along the international border, an official said.

He said that Pakistan rangers violated ceasefire by resorting to indiscriminate firing at the Indian positions in several areas of the international border in Jammu and Samba districts.

“Pakistan initiated heavy fire from RS Pura to Basanter river at about 0640-45 hrs,” a BSF spokesperson said.

“The heavy firing exchanges are going on in the area,” he said, adding: “Our troops are responding appropriately.”

This is the third exchange of fire between the two countries in the area during the past three days.

Earlier on the intervening night of January 17 and 18, a BSF head constable A Suresh and a minor girl Sbeity were killed in the exchange of fire.

Following the tense situation, the administration shut schools located within the radius of five kilometres from the border.

Reacting to alleged ceasefire violations, National Conference working president Omar Abdullah told reporters here, “The NSA of India should make a phone call to the NSA of Pakistan and put an end to the ceasefire violations.”

Yesterday, director general of BSF K K Sharma visited Jammu to pay tributes to head constable A Suresh and had directed his field commanders to “retaliate with full force.”

“I have told them (my commanders at the ground along IB) to retaliate with full force and teach them (Pakistan rangers) a lesson,” Sharma had told a press conference here.

CM, NIRMAL ANGUISHED

Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed grief and anguish over the killing of four persons during the cross-border shelling in RS Pura, Suchetgarh and Arnia areas on Friday, an official spokesman said.

The chief minister said that it is very unfortunate that the people of border areas in the state continue to bear the brunt of cross-border fire power, the spokesman said.

She said that today’s incidents of shelling are a proof of her assertion that the people of the state are the worst victims of acrimony between the two neighbouring countries. She appealed for cessation of hostilities on the borders.

Meanwhile, Mehbooba directed the Jammu divisional administration to ensure specialised treatment to the people injured in the shelling, the spokesman said, adding: “She also directed the respective deputy commissioners to organise camps for the affected people at safe locations and ensure that all basic amenities are provided to them.”

Deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh expressed grief and anguish over the killing of four persons in border shelling, an official spokesman said on Friday.

In a statement, Singh called for ending the hostilities, saying “the brunt of border skirmishes is being faced by the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially those living in forward areas.”

“The deputy chief minister expressed solidarity with the bereaved families and prayed for peace to the departed souls. Those who succumbed to the injuries during cross-border firing are martyrs,” he said in the statement.

Meanwhile, Singh on Friday visited the government medical college and hospital here, to enquire about the condition of people injured in cross-border firing last night in RS Pura, Suchetgarh and Arnia areas of Jammu region, the spokesman said.

“Singh enquired about the condition of the injured and medical facilities provided to them. He was briefed by a team of doctors, led by principal, GMC Dr Sunanda Raina, medical superintendent about the treatment being provided to the patients.

Singh directed the concerned officials to ensure best medicare to the injured,” the spokesman said.

 

LoC IN NOWSHEHRA TENSE, SCHOOLS CLOSED

Meanwhile, the authorities in Rajouri’s Nowshehra closed all educational institutions in villages along the line of control after heavy firing by Pakistan, an official said.

As per officials and army sources, Pakistani forces started heavy and unprovoked firing, targeting more than a dozen forward posts from Bhawani to Sher Makri and Lam areas this afternoon.

Pakistani mortar shells started to land in villages along the LoC, triggering a wave of panic among the inhabitants, an official said.

The Indian army also retaliated strongly, he said.

“In three hours of firing, dozens of shells landed in villages along the LoC while forward posts came under direct attack,” a source said.

Meanwhile, in view of the shelling, the authorities closed all educational institutions immediately while children managed to reach their homes safely.

“42 schools, both government and private, will remain closed until further orders,” sub-divisional magistrate Nowshera Abdul Sattar said.

He added that in Friday’s shelling, there are no reports of any loss of life or property in the area.

On the other hand, the alleged ceasefire violations also took place in Keri and Manjakote areas of Rajouri district.

In Keri, the firing started at 6.40 pm and stopped at 7.20 pm whereas in Manjakote, it started at about 6 pm and was going on when last reports came in, an official source said.

 

‘GOVT SOUNDS ALERT IN BORDER AREAS’

Meanwhile, the government on Friday said that it has sounded high alert in five border districts (belts) of Jammu region, while over 100 ambulances have also been pressed into service and additional doctors and paramedical staff sent to border areas in view of “shelling by Pakistani forces.”

The worst affected border belts of Arnia, RS Pura and Suchetgarh in Jammu district have witnessed mass migration of people to safer areas, a source said.

“More than six villages of Arnia and Suchetgarh have witnessed mass migration as more than 60 percent residents have already shifted to safer places, while villagers from remaining areas are most-likely to shift in the night,” a senior official of Jammu district administration told Greater Kashmir.

He said that although relief camps have been set up by the administration, majority of people have shifted to their relatives’ homes.

He said that the people have been advised to shift to safer places.

The health department has cancelled the leaves and directed all doctors and other medical staff to report to their respective stations and remain available there 24x7, an official said.

“The concerned heads of all the health centers have been directed to remain in constant touch with the authorities of government medical college and hospital (GMC&H), Jammu, so that in case of any emergency, the injured people are shifted without any wastage of any time,” director health services Jammu, Dr Gurjeet Singh told Greater Kashmir.

“In this regard, we have also written to the GMC principal,” he said.

Meanwhile, a source said that additional doctors—five from GMC Jammu and three from the health department—have also been deputed to different border areas witnessing firing and heavy shelling from across the border, the official said.

He said that more doctors could be deputed to border areas if need arises and if the situation worsens.

Dr Gurjeet said that over 100 ambulances have been pressed into service in border areas to shift the injured to nearest health centers or to the GMC Jammu in case of any emergency.

Meanwhile, deputy commissioner Samba, Sheetal Nanda said that a high alert has been sounded in the district and all educational institutions in border areas have been closed until further orders.

Around 10 villages in Samba have been badly affected in the Pakistani firing, Nanda said, adding that the administration has set up 12 relief camps in different areas of Samba district to provide shelter to the people.  

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