5 Women, 2 Children Among 10 Injured In Heavy Shelling

5 Women, 2 Children Among 10 Injured In Heavy Shelling

24 October 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Further escalating about 10 days long tensions on the International Border, Pakistan troops heavily pounded forward villages of Kanachak and Akhnoor sectors with mortar shells and automatic weapons late this evening causing injuries to 10 civilians including five women and two children as the shells fired from across the border fell inside the houses of several people causing damage to them and triggering panic among the people. Amidst raining of mortars and bullets along the IB, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand along with top brass of civil and police administration would be visiting extreme forward areas of the IB including Avtaal Community Hall (Ramgarh sector), Kangwalla Community Hall (Samba sector), Nikowal (Arnia-RS Pura sector) and Pargwal island in Pargwal sector tomorrow morning apart from the Government Medical College (GMC), Jammu to inquire condition of the injured. The visit of the Chief Minister was aimed at restoration of confidence among the border villagers, who had been feeling brunt of Pakistan shelling and firing for past about 10 days, and prevent their migration, the threat of which loomed large with shells landing in houses of the border villagers. The border villagers were already agitated over Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde skipping the forward areas during his October 22 visit to Samba, Hiranagar and Jammu. Entire population of forward village of Sidhar in Garkhal area of Akhnoor sector and Nanga in Ramgarh sector migrated tonight and took shelter in Government Higher Secondary Schools, Rajpura (Garkhal) and Ramgarh respectively to escape the Pakistan firing. The villagers of Jasso Chak and SM Pur in Ramgarh sector have been spending nights at Avtaal community hall. Pakistan also fired two mortar shells at forward village of Chandu Chak in RS Pura sector at 8.30 pm tonight but there were no casualties or damages. Official sources told the Excelsior that Pakistan Rangers with the reported help of Pakistan Army fired mortar shells, rockets and resorted to firing from automatic weapons at Lalyal Camp and surroundings in Kanachak sector and Garkhal in Akhnoor sector along the International Border simultaneously at 6.25 pm. The mortar shells fell inside and outside houses of the people, who were returning to their houses from the fields and day’s work or were sitting in the compounds cooking meals. The people ran for cover inside the houses and other places. “It was targeted firing on the houses of civilians. This was a most criminal act on part of Pakistan forces, who resorted to direct firing on the houses of the civilians, leading to 10 injuries of local population including women and children,’’ sources said describing the act of Pakistan as “unheard off and unseen’’ even during the wars, where civilians are not directly targeted as per Geneva conventions. Six civilians including three women were injured in Garkhal in Akhnoor sector while four persons including two women and two children were wounded in Lalyal Camp in Kanachak sector, sources said, adding that a number of houses were damaged in shelling and firing from Pakistan side. Some shells and bullets also fell in surrounding areas of Garkhal and Lalyal Camp. The heavy pounding of forward villages ceased at 8.15 pm but intermittent targeted shelling and firing by Pakistan continued till late tonight when the reports last came in. Nine civilians were injured in initial round of shelling while another civilian was injured at Garkhal at 11.45 pm. The Border Security Force (BSF) retaliated effectively, sources said. Police and civilians led by Additional SP Jammu M L Kaith evacuated the injured from Lalyal Camp and Garkhal and shifted them to Government Medical College (GMC) Hospital, where condition of one of the woman identified as Anju Sharma, 33, wife of Kamal Kumar Sharma, a resident of Lalyal Camp was stated to be critical. GMC Medical Superintendent Dr Rabinder Ratanpal said Anju Sharma had sustained splinters in her abdomen and was operated upon tonight The injured have been identified as Raj Kumar, 65, son of Khera Ram, Kuldeep Raj, 35, son of Raj Kumar, Ratna Devi, 60, wife of Raj Kumar, Asha Devi, 22, daughter of Raj Kumar and Primla Devi, 33, wife of Jagdish Raj, all residents of Garkhal, Kamlesh Kumari, 32, wife of Tara Chand, Anju Sharma, 33, wife of Kamal Kumar Sharma, Isha Sharma, 6, daughter of Kamal Kumar Sharma and Happy Sharma, 4, son of Kamal Kumar Sharma. They were injured in first spell of shelling while another civilian Ram Pal, 50, son of Prem Nath R-o Garkhal was injured late tonight. All the injured had sustained splinters of mortar shells that exploded inside their houses or close to their houses. Sources said in less than two hours of pounding, Pakistani forces fired several mortar shells, rockets and bullets from automatic weapons causing damage to houses in the forward areas. They added that panic gripped the villagers of Kanachak, Pargwal and Akhnoor sectors falling along the IB following heavy shelling by Pakistan. Majority of people have confined themselves to their houses. Entire population, numbering about 250 from village Sidhar, located right on the IB in Garkhal area of Akhnoor sector, tonight shifted to Government Higher Secondary School, Rajpura in Akhnoor. The Government has already kept several school buildings reserved for the people migrating from forward villages. All villagers of forward village of Nanga in Ramgarh sector also migrated this evening and took shelter in Government Higher Secondary School, Ramgarh. SHO Ramgarh Inspector Satish Sharma was camping at the school monitoring facilities for the border villagers. Congress MP from Jammu-Poonch Madan Lal Sharma visited the GMC Jammu and inquired condition of the injured. He strongly condemned Pakistan for firing on innocent civilians describing it as a criminal act of the neighbouring country. Today’s 10 non-fatal casualties came just two days after a BSF jawan was killed and eight others including seven BSF soldiers and a civilian were injured in Arnia sector. Five civilians and an equal number of BSF jawans had earlier been injured in Pakistan shelling and firing during past about 10 days. The civilian injuries had earlier taken place in Pargwal sector of Akhnoor tehsil. With today’s injuries, a total of one fatal and 28 non-fatal casualties have been suffered by BSF and civilians during about 10 days long ceasefire violations by Pakistan on the IB. Pakistan has also suffered heavy casualties and damages in retaliatory firing by the BSF. Last night at about 12.30 am, the Rangers targeted forward village Garurha in Niki Tawi area of Makwal sector firing mortar bombs, rockets and bullets from automatic weapons. The target was civil population, which had a narrow escape as the shells and bullets didn’t fall inside the houses. The people remained confined indoors. The BSF retaliated. Exchange of firing continued for about one and a half hours. Pakistan also fired at Nanga and Majra forward areas in Ramgarh sector almost simultaneously at 12.45 am and the exchange of firing continued for more than an hour. A mortar shell fell on the roof of the house of Mangal Dass son of Prakash Chand at Nanga. It pierced inside the house from roof but luckily the house inmates had narrow escape. Some more shells also fell inside of close to the houses but there were no casualties. The houses suffered minor damage after being hit by bullets and splinters of the shells. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand is visiting extreme forward posts of the International border at four places-Pargwal, Arnia, RS Pura and Samba tomorrow. All areas selected by Omar for visit to forward villages fall well within the firing range of Pakistani Rangers. He would also visit the GMC Jammu and inquire condition of the injured. Sources said the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister accompanied by civil and police administration would visit extreme forward areas at Avtaal Community Hall in Ramgarh sector, Kangwalla Community Hall in Samba sector, Nikowal in Arnia and RS Pura sector and Pargwal sector. “All these areas fall well within the firing range of Pakistan Rangers,’’ sources said, adding that elaborate security arrangements were being made for Omar’s visit to the border villages tomorrow. Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde during his October 22 one-day trip was initially scheduled to visit forward area of Paharpur in Hiranagar sector. Authorities had conducted trial of bulletproof bunkers from Hiranagar to Paharpur but the visit was cancelled later and the Home Minister visited Hiranagar police station, which had been attacked by the fidayeens on September 26 killing four police personnel and two civilians. Sources said the Chief Minister would inter-act with the border villagers to ascertain their problems and address their concerns. His visit was also aimed at stopping migration of the people from forward areas following reports that the people could shift to safer places in view of continuous heavy mortar shelling by the Rangers for past about 10 days.