Sharif Lacks Will Or Has No Control Over Army: Omar

Sharif Lacks Will Or Has No Control Over Army: Omar

25 October 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today undertook an extensive tour of the extreme forward areas on the International Border in Ramgarh, RS Pura and Pargwal sector and met the people, who were putting up a brave front despite heavy shelling by Pakistan, even as two more civilians were injured when a mortar shell exploded in their house at Pindi Charkan in Arnia sector in early hours of this morning as there was no let up in pounding of border villages by the Pakistan forces. Taking on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directly, Omar, in his address to the border people at Avtaal Community Hall at Ramgarh and Diwangarh Palace at Chakroi in RS Pura sector, asserted that the incidents of heavy shelling and firing by Pakistan on civilian population in Jammu sector were not possible without the involvement of Pakistan Government. He said he would take up the issue with Centre for construction of bunkers in border areas. The panic-stricken people in parts of Ramgarh and Garkhal area of Akhnoor sectors continued to migrate in the night to safer areas as houses of the people at Lalyal Camp in Kanachak and Garkhal in Akhnoor sector suffered extensive damage in yesterday’s shelling. Omar Abdullah accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, NC leaders Devender Singh Rana and Surjit Singh Slathia, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu Shantmanu and IGP Jammu Rajesh Kumar went right up to Nanga village, located extreme on the IB, met with the people and boosted their morale. He also went to the house of Mangal Singh, which had extensively been damaged in the shelling. He called upon the people to stay indoors and protect themselves from shelling and firing from across the border. Apart from Nanga, Omar visited forward village Avtaal in Ramgarh, Chakroi and Abdullian in RS Pura sector and Pargwal island besides the Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu, where he inquired the condition of civilians injured in Pakistan shelling at Lalyal Camp, Kanachak and Garkhal in Akhnoor last evening. He flew to Pargwal island in Akhnoor, which falls within the firing range of Pakistan, and addressed the people of Pargwal and its surrounding villages, which were being repeatedly shelled by the Rangers. So far, five civilians of village Najwal in Pargwal island have been injured in the shelling besides several houses have been damaged. He was in the island for 30 minutes listening to problems faced by the people due to pounding of the forward areas with mortar shells and firing and assured them that the civil administration has been asked to address their concerns. Official sources told the Excelsior that people in almost all the forward areas visited by the Chief Minister complained that the administration has not readied proper shelter places for them to shift there in view of heavy shelling and firing by Pakistan. “The administration was asking us to shift to Government schools, if required, but these schools lacked infrastructure like toilets, water, electricity and other facilities. We can just spend the night in the schools and not the day due to lack of basic amenities,’’ the villagers lamented. Even in Garkhal forward village of Akhnoor sector, which was heavily shelled last evening by Pakistan injuring six civilians, the people of village Sidhar, who had migrated to Rajpura Government Higher Secondary School, returned to their houses this morning due to lack of basic facilities. However, after spending day in the houses, they again took shelter in the school tonight. A mortar shell fell in the house of Swaran Dass, 55, at Pindi Kalan Charkan in Arnia sector at 3.30 am today causing injuries to Swaran Dass and his 23 years old son Nishat Baba alias Sunny. The house was damaged. Both of them have been admitted in the Government Medical College, Jammu. With two more civilian injuries, a total of 12 persons have been injured in Pakistan shelling since last evening including six at Garkhal, Akhnoor, four at Lalyal Camp, Kanachak and two at Pindi Kalan Charkan, Arnia. A BSF jawan has been killed and 30 persons including BSF soldiers and civilians injured during last 10 days of heavy shelling and firing on the International Border. Addressing the border people at Avtaal Community Hall in Ramgarh and Diwangarh Palace at Chakroi, RS Pura, Omar slammed Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif over the ceasefire violations, maintaining they can’t take place without his consent and questioned what was the use of his talking friendship and dialogue with India if his forces had to target the innocent civilians on Indian side so brazenly? “As a Prime Minister of Pakistan, the violation of ceasefire cannot be without his consent”, Omar said, adding: “clearly, he either lacks the will, intention and sincerity or has no control over his Army.” “If that is so then what is the use of talking friendship and dialogue by the Pak Premier?” he asked the leadership of Pakistan. Omar said Sharif should honour the 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan. “If Sharif wants to go the “extra mile” to make peace with India he should first ensure that the ceasefire violations stop.” Omar said if Mr Sharif wanted to go the “extra mile” to make peace with India, he must ensure there is no ceasefire violation. “I appreciate that Sharif wants to walk the extra mile, and if he really wants to walk the extra mile, let him make sure that the ceasefire holds,” he said, adding: “that’s the only extra mile he has to walk.” Omar said he failed to understand when the Pakistan Prime Minister talked of peace and resolution of issues amicably through dialogue, why Pakistan indulged in violation of ceasefire? Expressing deep concern over the ceasefire violations, the brunt of which has to be borne by civilians living near the border and LoC areas, the Chief Minister observed: “this is in nobody’s interest but only endangers life of people in border areas.” Noting that ceasefire maintenance is not the responsibility of one country, Omar said: “when there is fire from one side, the other side will obviously retaliate.” He said it was difficult to understand how on the one hand the Pakistan Prime Minister can continue to talk about normalization of relations and at the same time, “my people are spending nights in bunkers and other safer places to escape Pakistan shelling and firing’’. “…Today for the first time I am getting demands for new bunkers to be constructed. That in itself explains the situation prevailing on the borders,” he asserted. Referring to the ceasefire violations, Omar said: “whether this is with the approval of Pakistan Government or the Pakistan Government is not being considered or consulted when this sort of fire is opened, I don’t know.” Asserting that he was one of the strongest supporters of dialogue between India and Pakistan, he described the present situation as “extremely difficult” and said: “the onus is on both the nations to create an atmosphere of a dialogue. “You cannot expect only one to keep talking about talks and on the other side ignoring it…If Nawaz Sharif really means what he is saying, if he wants to walk the extra mile, then walk the extra mile,” he said. Omar said the ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan in 2003 was the biggest gift for the people living on International Border and the Line of Control (LoC), who used to face great trouble due to shelling and firing. He said despite bitterness developing between India and Pakistan on many occasions due to the militancy and terrorist attacks, the agreement stood firm and for the last 10 years borders and LoC remained peaceful and tranquil. The Chief Minister expressed hope that peace and tranquility will be restored on the borders and LoC, enabling people to live a normal life. He praised the border area population for showing highest degree of bravery and for safeguarding the borders. The Chief Minister advised those who want to do politics on miseries of people, to shun this practice and come forward to join the State and Central Governments to mitigate the difficulties of shelling affected population. The Chief Minister said that the demands put forth by the legislators and Sarpanchs representing border areas have been registered. “In fact we have already discussed these demands with Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde during his recent visit here and we are actively pursuing them at the Central level”. He said the issue of recruitment of youth residing in border areas in para military forces and Army has also been taken up with the Home Minister. “We have emphasized the need for recruiting the youth of these areas in the Army and paramilitary forces and will continue to stress on it,” he maintained. He said a comprehensive proposal for construction of bunkers for civilian population in the affected areas would also be sent to the Central Government soon. He said that he has already asked the concerned to move ahead in this regard. Garu Ram, MLA RS Pura, Sham Lal Chaudhry, MLA BJP, RS Chib, former Minister from Congress and Taranjeet Singh Tony were also present at Chakroi during the visit of Omar. Meanwhile, Planning and Development Minister Ajay Sadhotra today also visited the GMC Jammu and inquired condition of the civilians injured in Pakistan shelling and firing. Meanwhile, the Pakistan forces last night opened firing at 17 places on the IB in Ramgarh, Arnia, RS Pura, Kanachak and Akhnoor sectors targeting forward villages and BSF posts directly. “Pakistan resorted to ceasefire violations at 17 places last night at Arnia, Ramgarh, RS Pura and Chicken Neck sector,’’ BSF officials said, adding that the BSF gave befitting reply to the shelling and firing. They said the BSF is providing the services of veterinary doctors to take care of livestock of the people in border areas. The BSF was also educating people and giving them pre warning for safety and security, they added. The heavy shelling and firing by the Rangers at Lalyal Camp in Kanachak and Garkhal in Akhnoor stopped at around 8.15 pm yesterday but, sources said, intermittent shelling targeted at the houses of civilians continued throughout the last night at both the places. Several houses were damaged in the shelling. While people from village Sidhar in Garkhal migrated to Government Higher Secondary School Rajpura last night and returned in the morning, other people in the forward areas of Garkhal spent sleepless night. The people from village Sidhar again migrated to the same school tonight. The people from village Nanga in Ramgarh sector of Samba district tonight took shelter at Government Higher Secondary School, Ramgarh while the villagers of Jasso Chak and SM Pur have accommodated themselves at Avtaal community hall. Sixty-five year old Lajo Devi of Garkhal said: “we can’t see more injuries to our children. It would be better if they kill us than making us suffer every day.” Another aged woman Makhni Devi of Lalyal Camp in Kanachak said that in 1999 a bullet fired from across the border had killed her husband while he was working in the fields. “Last night’s shelling again reminded me the death of my husband. I don’t know for how long they would keep targeting poor people like us?’’ she asked. Anil Sharma, a youth from Lalyal Camp said that people in cities can’t imagine the pain of border residents. “We can’t harvest our paddy crops and mortars being fired by the enemy pose a threat to our lives. We are virtually in a Catch 22 situation,” he said. Sources said Pakistan started shelling and firing at Narayanpur, SM Pur, Fatwal, Chamblayal and Kandral post in Ramgarh sector at 2 am. Simultaneously, they opened shelling and firing at Korotana, Chandu Chak, Abdullian, Pindi, Pindi Charkan and other forward areas in Arnia and RS Pura sectors. The firing and shelling continued till 6 am. PTI adds from New Delhi: Meanwhile, BSF is likely to make fresh efforts to have a flag meeting with its counterpart Pakistan Rangers to defuse tension along the International Border in the wake of heavy firing from across the border. The Home Ministry has asked the Border Security Force to try to hold a flag meeting with Pakistan Rangers as soon as possible to reduce tension along the border in Jammu and Kashmir where heavy exchange of firing has led to killing of a BSF jawan and injuries to many others besides migration from forward areas. At the same time, highly placed sources said, the border guarding force has been given direction to retaliate with equal measure any unprovoked firing from across the border. There have been two attempts by the BSF to hold flag meetings with the Pakistan Rangers this month - on October 18 and October 20 - but on the both occasions, the border guarding force of Pakistan did not turn up. Firing from across the border has become a matter of concern for the Government and steps are being taken to evacuate villagers living close to the border to safety till the tension continues, sources said. The BSF has been asked to ensure that there was minimum inconvenience to border population during the skirmishes.