Jammu: Nine people, including an infant and two soldiers have been killed, and fifty civilians injured in the last week as Pakistani troops shelled Indian villages with mortar bombs by targeting settlements and border outposts (BoPs) in Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts along the International Border for the eighth day today, prompting a strong and effective retaliation by the Border Security Force.
Hundreds of villagers had to vacate their houses and take shelter either at the houses of relatives or at relief camps set up by the government at safer places. All educational institutions in the areas remained closed.
“The Pakistan Rangers indulged in heavy and indiscriminate shelling of mortar bombs and firing of small arms and automatic weapons at night, targeting villages in the Ramgarh and Samba sectors,” a police officer told news agency PTI.
Fifteen persons — 13 in the Ramgarh sector, and two in the Samba sector — were injured in the firing and shelling, he said, adding that of them, 11 were sent to the GMC Hospital in Jammu, while the remaining four were admitted to different hospitals in the district.
An 8-month-old infant has been killed and 50 civilians have been injured as Pak shells villages along the border
Earlier, over ten persons were injured in Pakistani shelling in Jammu district.
While 70-year-old Kaushalya Devi, 48-year-old Madan Lal Bhagat, 52-year-old Des Raj and 65-year-old Thudu Ram were injured in Arnia and RS Pura sectors of Jammu district, 22-year-old Aman Singh of Bobiyan village was injured in the Hiranagar sector in Kathua district, officials said.
They added that the firing from across the border was intense as 80 mm and 120 mm mortar shells hit dozens of villages, including Jora Farm — a settlement of milkmen — in the morning.
Despite the shelling, emergency services personnel have reached the villages along the International Border in Jammu, the officials said. They added that the firing had stopped at most of the places in the afternoon, but was still going on intermittently at a few places in Samba district.
Earlier in the day, a senior Border Security Force official said the firing and shelling had continued unabated throughout the night and spread to all the sectors — from Akhnoor to Samba — along the border.
Villagers in Arnia take shelter under a bunker during Pakistani shelling along International Border in Jammu
He added that the Pakistan Rangers suffered several casualties with a number of its bunkers getting hit during the skirmishes. “It has been learnt that one of the injured rangers has been shifted to a Lahore hospital, while two others are being treated at a local hospital,” the official told news agency PTI.
As the firing from the Pakistani side intensified over the last two days, villagers living close to the border areas left their homes amid mortar shell explosions. Massive damage was caused to a number of houses, officials said, adding that the exact number of houses damaged was being ascertained.
SD Singh Jamwal, the Inspector General of Police, Jammu, said police parties were deployed and they were helping residents in the areas shift to safer places.
Divisional Commissioner (Jammu) Hemant Kumar Sharma said relief camps were activated at safer places all along the border, especially in the worst-hit RS Pura and Arnia sectors.
Hundreds of people had reported at these camps were set up in educational institutions and other government buildings, Mr Sharma said. He added that adequate facilities were available at these camps, so that the displaced people did not face any problem.
All schools vulnerable to Pakistani shelling have been closed along the border as a precautionary measure.
The latest round of shelling had started on May 15, when the BSF foiled two infiltration attempts by Pakistan-backed infiltrators in the Samba sector, and intensified after Pakistan “pleaded” with the BSF to stop firing, after being pounded with heavy artillery that left a Pak trooper dead across the border on May 20.
So far, nine persons, including two BSF soldiers and an infant, have been killed and 50 others injured in the Pakistani firing and shelling.
Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a spurt in Pakistani shelling and firing along the International Border and the Line of Control this year.
Over 700 such incidents have been reported so far this year, which have left 39 people, including 18 security personnel, dead and several injured.