5 Injured, Heavy Firing Resumes On LoC

5 Injured, Heavy Firing Resumes On LoC

16 August 2013
The Daily Excelsior


Jammu: Three Army jawans and two civilians were injured as shells, rockets and bullets fired by the Pakistan Army targeted18 forward Indian posts and landed in residential areas at Salhutri and surrounding villages in Poonch district overnight as heavy exchange of firing between the Armies of India and Pakistan continued for past three consecutive nights. At least three Pakistan Army jawans were reportedly killed and four others were injured while they were forced to desert eight forward posts in view of strong retaliation by the Indian troops in Nikyal area of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) opposite Hamirpur area of Poonch early this morning. Official sources told the Excelsior that Indian troops had been left with little options but to retaliate very effectively and silence the Pakistani guns, which had started targeting civil population on Indian side. Several bullets, shells and rockets fell in civilian areas with some of them landing inside houses of the people at Salhutri, Sandot, Jhalas, Thera, Mankote, Bhera and surrounding areas of Poonch district. At 9.45 pm tonight, Pakistan Army resumed heavy firing at Hamirpur and Mendhar. Firing was on when the reports last came in. No casualties or damage was reported in the firing. Indian side retaliated effectively. After two civilians and three Army soldiers were injured in heavy firing from Pakistan side yesterday, Indian troops retaliated very effectively targeting the enemy’s eight troops, which had continuously been raining bullet and shells apart from all kind of heavy weaponry on the Indian side including the civilian areas. Reports said the heavy Indian retaliation forced Pakistani troops to desert their eight forward posts at Nikyal in PoK opposite Hamirpur fearing imminent death. Three Pakistani jawans were confirmed dead at Nikyal while at least four others were injured, sources said. After heavy Indian retaliation, Pakistani firing stopped this morning as four to six ambulances could be seen ferrying dead and injured Army soldiers from their forward posts to hospitals in Nikyal area. Sources said three Indian Army personnel of 15 Bihar Regiment were injured after a mortar shell fired by Pakistani troops fell on their post in Balakote sector of Poonch district. A total of six Army soldiers were manning the post. While three jawans inside the post survived, three others, who were outside the post, were injured. The injured jawans have been identified as Devinder Kumar Yadav, Tanjit Kumar and Prince Kumar of 15 Bihar Regiment’s C Company and 638 Post. Troops evacuated the injured from their forward post and shifted them to Military Hospital in Rajouri, where they were responding to the treatment. Two civilians, who were injured at Sandot and Mankote in forward areas of Poonch after shells, rockets and bullets, fired by Pakistan Army, landed near their houses. They have been identified as Parvez Khan, 22, son of Mohammad Shakeel, a resident of Sandot, Balakote and Mohammad Shamim son of Attaullah Mohammad, a resident of village Patari in Mankote area. They were shifted to local hospital from where they were shifted to Government Medical College (GMC) hospital in Jammu in view of their serious condition. The civilians had received pellets of 82 mm mortar, sources said. Some shells also fell on cattle sheds of Mohammad Aslam son of Mohammad Hussain at village Basooni in Balakote killing his two cattle. There were reports that cattle of some Gujjars putting up in the forward areas have been injured. Last night, Pakistan Army resorted to heavy firing between Sona Gali to Balakote and Hamirpur. Heavy firearms and mortar shells were used. Indian side has been giving effective response to Pakistan firing and shelling. Meanwhile, people living in forward villages of Balakote, Mendhar, Mankote and Poonch especially Salhutri, Jhalas, Thera, Sandot, Mankote and Bhera etc were feeling panicky following heavy firing by the Pakistan Army targeting civilian areas in which two civilians have been injured so far and some cattle have perished. “This has reminded us of 'pre-2003 ceasefire agreement’ days when Pakistan shelling and firing had forced us to migrate to safer areas,” said Rehmat Khan, a civilian putting up at village Salhutri where walls of several houses were hit by the bullets and pellets or mortar shells. The people said they had been living peacefully in their houses at forward areas after ceasefire agreement came into force in November 2003. However, frequent violation of ceasefire by the Pakistan Army in the form of firing, which had earlier been confined to Army posts, have now started hitting the civilian areas, leading to panic among the villagers. At several places, the villagers were even ready to migrate. However, SSP Poonch Shamsheer Hussain, Deputy Commissioner Sajjad Ahmad Khan and other senior officers of civil and police administration visited the villages and persuaded them not to migrate with the assurance that situation would settle down in the next few days. Meanwhile, asserting that it was ready to deal with any situation on the border, the Army tonight said Indian troops have responded strongly to ceasefire violations by Pakistan and will continue to send a strong message to it. “We are giving a hard message (to Pakistan) on LoC– let me assure you on this– whatever action we take are strong and it is effective (with regard to ceasefire violation)”, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 16 Corps, Lt Gen D S Hooda, told reporters here. He was replying to question whether India wants to give a strong message to Pakistan over LoC firing and ceasefire violations. “There are no orders required to the troops on the ground - we are responding very strongly (with regard to Pak firing and ceasefire violations on LoC in Poonch),” he said. “They (Pakistan) are trying that LoC remains active– we have got evidence to see that during ceasefire violations - they are trying to push in infiltrators”, the GOC said. “Their attempt is to keep LoC active by carrying various actions in order to disturb counter infiltration grid– I want to tell you we are responding strongly - people on the borders know exactly what to do”, Lt Gen Hooda said, adding “so troops are absolutely ready.” He said that cross border militants have failed to infiltrate along LoC in the region for past couple of years and that is why the militancy in Jammu region has fallen down. The GOC also blamed Pakistan for targeting civilian areas in the range of 3 kilometers on Indian side to cause panic. “Our response is effective– we want to keep it strong so that they do not target civilian areas,” he added.