Mortars, Bullets Rain In Entire Arnia, Parts Of RS Pura Sector

20 July 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: After a day's lull, Pakistani rangers rattled entire Arnia sector and parts of RS Pura sector with heavy mortar shelling and firing in early hours of this morning, killing and injuring several cattle and causing extensive damage to houses and cattle sheds in forward areas sending a fresh wave of panic among the border villagers, who had started feeling a sigh of relief yesterday due to no firing. As firing intensified along the International Border, the Union Home Ministry dispatched 2000 additional Border Security Force (BSF) personnel to the border to strengthen the force and ensure that the militants didn't manage to take advantage of firing and infiltrate into this side. Apart from additional manpower, the MHA has also moved surveillance equipments, vehicles and other infrastructure support along the border to strengthen Intelligence network, coordination with sister agencies and conduct special operations along the IB. Official sources and eyewitnesses told the Excelsior that Pakistani Rangers opened up their guns covering one and a half dozen BSF posts and over dozen villages along Arnia sector and parts of RS Pura at 1.10 am. The Pakistani forward posts resorted to simultaneous firing at Pittal Pindi, Kaku-De-Kothe,Changia, Chanana, Sei Camp, Nikowal, Jabowal and Bakarpur in Arnia sector, Gharana, Gharani and Suchetgarh in RS Pura sector. The Pakistani posts also used mortars during the firing, some of which fell inside houses and cattle shed of the people while others pierced through walls and roofs of the houses and entered rooms of the sleeping people. Almost all villages in Arnia sector and parts of RS Pura sector including houses of the people were filled with exploded and unexploded 81mm and 51mm mortar shells. Army detonated all unexploded shells safely. Though there was no human loss of life, three cattle were killed and over half a dozen were seriously injured after being hit by shells and bullets from across the International Border. The people, as usual, had tied the cattle outside their houses or in the cattle sheds, which were damaged. When the Excelsior team visited the border villages in Arnia and RS Pura sector this morning, they didn't find any house in the village, whose houses hadn't been hit by the bullets and shells, leading to small, medium and large craters on the walls and roofs. Some of the houses had been rendered unsafe after being hit by the mortars and bullets. Sat Pal and Girdhari Lal, two villagers in forward area of Jabowal told the Excelsior that their houses were rattled with the sound of mortar firing in dead of the night and they ducked under their beds to survive along with their family members. 'It was a very narrow escape for our families. Not only our families but over 100 other families in the villages had miraculous escape in early morning firing and shelling,' they said, adding that several houses had been damaged due to firing and shelling while few cattle were killed and others injured. The BSF didn't suffer any casualties or damage in the firing though their over one and a half dozen posts came under intense firing from the Rangers in entire Arnia sector and parts of RS Pura sector. 'The BSF retaliated effectively,' sources said, adding the guns of the Rangers fell silent around 5.45 am this morning after the BSF have more than matching response. BSF Director General DK Pathak, who had visited Arnia sector only a day before had asked the border guards to give effective response to firing by the Rangers. However, casualties or damage suffered by the Pakistan side in the heavy retaliation by the BSF was not known. Pak media claimed that one civilian was killed and seven others were injured on their side in the BSF firing. Bodh Raj lost his two cattle while another was injured at village Gharana while Jagdish Raj son of Isher Dass lost roof of his house at village Gharani. Cattle of Balwinder Kumar son of Amarnath, Satpal son of Hans Raj and Girdhari Lal apart from others also suffered fatal and non-fatal casualties in the firing. Romesh Bhagat also lost his cattle at village Rakh Jeora in Nikowal area. Four mortar shells had exploded in just one house of Yashpal Singh son of Kartar Singh at village Kaku-De-Kothe but fortunately Yashpal was living in other house and was using this one only for cattle. The Veterinary Departments teams comprising among others Dr Indu Bushan, Dr Anil Dhingra and Dr Ashwani Bassan along with staff provided treatment to the injured cattle in the villages they could cover during the day today. Six unexploded shells were detected by the villagers at village Sai Tangali early this morning. The shells had landed in fields of the people. Police parties headed by SHO Arnia Inspector Kulbir Choudhary rushed to the spot, cordoned off the area and informed Army and BSF. Bomb Disposal Squads of the Army reached the village this morning and safely detonated the shells in isolated area after keeping the civilian population away from the site. The Bomb Disposal Squads moved from village to village detonating several live mortar shells. The people could be seen collecting numerous empties of shells and bullets from their houses and fields in the morning. In most part of the day today, the people stayed indoors in all forward villages of Arnia and parts of RS Pura sector except for the time when senior officers from BSF, civil and police administration visited the border to assess the situation. The people wanted the civil administration including DC Jammu A K Sahu to announce relief for the people, whose cattle had been killed or injured and houses damages in shelling and firing by the Pakistani Rangers. The administration assured the people of quick action in the matter. The police officers once again advised the people living in the border areas to refrain from venturing out in the fields in view of continued firing from the Rangers. Official sources described firing and shelling by the Rangers as 'unprovoked and indiscriminate'. There was no reason for the firing except to prevent the villagers from cultivating paddy crop in the forward areas, which would lead to removal of grown up 'sarkanda' (wild grass) and give BSF clear view of the borders. Sources said the Rangers want grown up grass not to be cut in view of their bad intentions to infiltrate militants into the Indian territory. On Wednesday, a BSF jawan was killed and seven others including three BSF personnel and four civilians were injured in heavy firing by the BSF in Arnia sector. Sources said no flag meeting or hotline contact has been proposed between the BSF and Rangers so far. Meanwhile, to check infiltration bids along the International Border amidst continued ceasefire violations and firing by the Rangers, nearly 2,000 additional BSF personnel and special surveillance equipment have been deployed along the border for effective domination of the areas. The additional man-power, surveillance equipment, vehicles and other infrastructure support have been moved into the border along Pakistan to strengthen intelligence network, coordination with sister agencies and conduct special operations along the border. Sources said vulnerability mapping of the Border Out Posts (BOPs), which are sensitive with regard to infiltration, have been carried out and the additional resources have been deployed there. 'Continuous efforts are being made to deploy the latest surveillance equipment, fully fitted with day and night vision devices, for further enhancing the border domination', sources said. The Home Ministry has also directed for effective domination of the border by carrying out round-the-clock surveillance of the borders through patrolling, border ambushes and by deploying observation posts all along the international border. The riverine segments of international border being patrolled and dominated with the help of water crafts and speed boats of BSF's water wings, the officials said.