Pak firing to stop tunnel work on IB

Pak firing to stop tunnel work on IB

20 September 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Pakistani Rangers today opened firing at forward village of Chechwal on the International Border in Samba sector targeting JCB machines and BSF jawans, who were engaged in digging land to completely unearth underground tunnel up to the Zero Line. The Border Security Force (BSF) was close to complete digging work of the tunnel and expose Pakistan for having dug the tunnel deep inside the Indian territory to facilitate infiltration of militants and smuggling of narcotics. The BSF retaliated firing to silence guns of the Rangers and vowed to go ahead with the work despite objections by Pakistan. Official sources told the Excelsior that the Rangers started firing on JCB machines and the security personnel engaged in digging earth to detect the tunnel between border fencing and Zero Line at village Chechwal in Samba sector at 4.05 pm. DIG BSF JS Oberoi said the Rangers fired five to six rounds of bursts. The BSF retaliated, he added. There was no casualties or damage on Indian side in the firing. The bullets fired by the Rangers didn’t hit men and machinery. The BSF engaged in unearthing the tunnel had a narrow escape in the firing, sources said, adding the Rangers stopped firing after retaliation by the security forces. However, tension persisted on the border after fresh firing by the Rangers this afternoon. The civilians were anticipating that tensions could grow as the Rangers wanted the BSF to stop work on unearthing of the tunnel while the security forces were determined to go ahead with it. Sources said JCB driver, BSF jawan Pradeep Kumar and local tractor operator Ajit Singh along with other BSF personnel and workers engaged in the digging job were safe. The BSF jawans and workers were engaged in the job with full protection as firing from the Rangers was being anticipated. A total of four tractors and one JCB were involved in the digging work. A bullet reportedly hit one of the tractors but there was no official confirmation. The BSF stopped the digging temporarily but was determined to resume it. Sources said the Rangers continued to fire few shots intermittently up to 6.30 pm. The digging work was going on between Pillar Nos. 170 and 172. Sources added that the BSF had reached 25 meters ahead of fencing while digging earth and detecting the tunnel dug 20 to 25 feet underground by Pakistan authorities from their side to village Chechwal. The BSF has, meanwhile, maintained that it was determined to go ahead with the digging work and completely find out the tunnel right up to the border. 'We are determined to dig the earth, find out the tunnel leading to Pakistan on the International Border and expose the neighbouring country for its misadventure’’, the BSF officials said, adding that firing by the Rangers was not going to deter them. Yesterday, the Rangers had called a flag meeting with the BSF at local level at Chechwal and wanted the digging work to be stopped. The BSF had categorically refused to stop the work on the ground that the digging was aimed at exposing the tunnel dug by Pakistan and it was being carried out within the Indian territory between border fencing to Zero Line. Worthwhile to mention here that a tunnel dug about 540 meters inside village Chechwal and rest from border fencing to Zero Line had been detected by a civilian on the evening of July 27 when he saw the land having caved in at three straight points due to heavy Monsoon rains. The BSF and Geological Survey of India (GSI) later dug the earth and found a well constructed tunnel 20 feet underground fitted with oxygen and fresh air pipes. The tunnel had enough space to accommodate a number of militants and smugglers at a time. Exit of the tunnel was found near village Chechwal. The tunnel was 540 meters inside the village. According to sources, the tunnel had been dug by experts from Pakistan to facilitate infiltration of militants and smuggling of narcotics. The tunnel was linked to a forward Pakistan post, sources said, adding the Rangers feared that the unearthing of tunnel by the BSF right up to the border would expose their plot of infiltration of militants. The Rangers and the Pakistan Army hadn’t been able to push militants either through the Line of Control (LoC) or the International Border (IB). The BSF was also trying to find out whether there could be more tunnels on the IB.