4 Army, BSF Jawans Among 16 Injured As Pak Pounds Entire IB In Jammu Sector

7 October 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Despite suffering heavy losses in retaliatory firing by the BSF, Pakistani Rangers pounded almost entire 198 kilometers International Border from Hiranagar to Akhnoor sector tonight with 82mm mortars and automatic weapons targeting more than 60 Border Out Posts (BOPs) of BSF and civilian population in Hiranagar, Samba, Ramgarh, Arnia, RS Pura, Kanachak and Pargwal sectors simultaneously at 8 pm tonight while Pakistan Army shelled several areas on the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch sector during the day. A total of 16 persons including three Army soldiers and a BSF jawan were injured in shelling by Pakistan along the IB and LoC since last night till the reports last came in. More than 10,000 people have so far migrated from border villages of Hiranagar, Samba, Ramgarh, Arnia, RS Pura and Pargwal to safer areas abandoning their houses to save themselves from the shelling. At most of the places, the shelling continued when the reports last came in though its intensity came down after 10.30 pm after thunderstorm shook most parts of Jammu region. 'During recent ongoing hostilities between India and Pakistan, this was for the first time when Pakistan opened up entire International Border from Hiranagar to Akhnoor at about 8 pm tonight and started pounding forward BSF positions and border villages with 82mm mortar shells and automatic weapons,' official sources told the Excelsior. This led to migration from several forward areas in Hiranagar, Samba, Ramgarh, Arnia, RS Pura and Pargwal with people fleeing towards Government schools, community halls and religious places identified for them by the administration. Three Army jawans including a JCO were seriously injured when their location was hit by a mortar shell fired from across the LoC in Gali Maidaan in Sabjian sector of Poonch district this evening. The Army jawans retaliated effectively. The injured Army jawans have been identified as Naib Subedar Subash Singh, Sepoy Surjit Singh and Sepoy Basant Kumar of 40 Rashtriya Rifles. They were immediately evacuated and shifted to Military Hospital in Poonch, where their condition was stated to be critical. They had sustained splinter injuries of mortar shell. BSF ASI Resham Singh of 86 battalion deployed at BOP Mala Bela in Kanachak sector was also hit by splinters of mortar shell and was injured. Another civilian Girdhari Sharma was injured in Bhalwal Molu at Pargwal sector tonight. Both of them were tonight shifted to Government Medical College (GMC), Jammu in serious condition. For the first time during ongoing hostilities between India and Pakistan, the Rangers pounded Hiranagar sector in Kathua district, which had remained peaceful even during July-August skirmishes between the two hostile neighbours. All forward BSF posts and villages including Londi, Chak Dulma, Paharpur, Chilyari, Pansar, Manyari, Bobiya, Karol Matrayan, Khanab, Chtre-De-Khani and surroundings in Hiranagar sector were targeted by the Rangers with mortars and heavy fire arms at 8 pm today, leading to migration from all these villages. Deputy Commissioner, Kathua Dr Shahid Iqbal, SSP Kathua Mohan Lal, Additional SP Yogesh Sharma and SDPO Hiranagar Diwakar Singh, who were camping in forward areas in anticipation of firing by the Rangers, shifted the migrants to Government Higher Secondary School (HSS) Hiranagar, Government Middle School, Marheen, Government Middle School Chhan Khatrian, Government High School Chakra and Government HSS Koota. Iqbal said the migrants have been provided with blankets, water bottles and ration items. He added that there had been no report of any casualties or damage on the Indian side so far. In Samba and Ramgarh sectors in Samba district, forwards BSF posts and villages including Mawa, Chechwal, and Regal (all in Samba), Nanga and SM Pura in Ramgarh were shelled from across the IB. SSP Samba Anil Magotra said the people from Nanga, Sadho, Sadho Camp and SM Pura villages tonight took shelter in Government Higher Secondary School Ramgarh and Avtaal Community Hall. However, he added, the people in forward villages of Samba were staying in their houses so far but the district administration has identified Government schools and other places for them in case of any eventuality. While people of entire Arnia town and forward villages had migrated already following five killings and several injuries of civilians yesterday in Pakistan shelling, the Rangers tonight again shelled Arnia town, Kaku-De-Kothe, Chanana, Chingia, Treva, Sei and Nikowal. A live shell was defused by the Army at Ward No. 1 in Arnia. Police teams led by SHO Arnia Inspector Kulbir Singh Choudhary were camping in the police station to meet with any eventuality. The police station was badly damaged in Pakistan shelling last night. Almost similar was the position in RS Pura sector, where Joura Farm, Gharani, Gharana, Korotana, Abdullian, Flora, Chandu Chak, Khurd and adjacent villages came under heavy shelling tonight prompting the people to take shelter in ITI building and Higher Secondary School, RS Pura. In Kanachak and Pargwal sectors, Gol Pattan, Garkhal, Kanachak town, Mehta Dian Pattian, Nai Basti and Pargwal town came under heavy shelling. People from Nai Basti had last night migrated to Government Higher Secondary School in Pargwal. Meanwhile, 11 civilians including an aged couple, two women and a child were injured in heavy mortar shelling by Pakistan Rangers along the International Border in Arnia, RS Pura, Kanachak and Pargwal sectors in Jammu last night while there was no let up in shelling and firing by Pakistan Army on the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch sector with Mendhar, Balakote and Poonch sectors reporting heavy exchanged between the two sides. A total of 40 BSF Border Out Posts (BOPs) came under intense Pakistan shelling last night. For second consecutive night yesterday, mortar shells fell in Arnia town, Main Bazaar, Bus Stand and police station building causing extensive to civilian property including houses and shops and various other structures while more than two dozen cattle were killed or injured in the shelling. The police personnel had a narrow escape after building of Arnia police station was pounded by the Rangers. A boundary wall of the police station collapsed after being hit by an 82mm mortar shell. Sources said that Pakistan Rangers continued heavy mortar shelling in Arnia, RS Pura, Kanachak and Pargwal throughout the last night till 6.30 am today. Chinore Farm and Dub Sudan in Kanachak sector, Garkhal, Nai Basti, Deora, Chaprayal and surrounding villages in Pargwal were worst hit by the shelling. Several mortar shells fells inside houses of the people, causing extensive damage to them. According to sources, about 200 houses and other structures including shops have been damaged in Pakistan shelling and firing on the IB so far. The damage varied from extensive to partial. Seven civilians were injured in Arnia, three in Kanachak and Pargwal and one in RS Pura during overnight shelling, sources said. More than two dozen cattle were either killed or injured in these four sectors last night after cowsheds were hit by the mortars, sources said, adding that the Rangers fired only mortar shells directly targeting civilian areas yesterday and there was very less firing. The BSF jawans retaliated effectively at all the places and gave adequate response to the Rangers. Sources said 40 BOPs of the BSF were targeted by the Rangers in the night long firing but there were no casualties or damage on the BSF side in last night's firing. Several mortar shells fell inside Arnia town, Main Market, Bus Stand and surroundings causing extensive damage to houses and shops of the people and injuring civilians. A mortar shell exploded in front of Arnia police station in wee hours of this morning damaging its boundary but the police personnel had a narrow escape. 'The damage to civilian property including houses, shops and cattle sheds has been very extensive. Most of the houses in Arnia town and all border villages including Kaku-De-Kothey, Mashan-De-Kothey, Devigarh, Treva, Sei etc have suffered partial to heavy damage. Even shops in main market of Arnia were hit by the shells last night and damaged,' the locals said. With continued shelling in Arnia town, entire population of Arnia town and border villages today migrated to Rehal and Deoli migrant camps in Bishnah, which were being run by the Army and Slair relief camp in Arnia, which was being managed by the locals themselves with some support from the administration. Only BSF and police personnel were seen in Arnia town and border villages apart from the cattle with locals taking shelter in the camps. Director General of Police (DGP) K Rajendra visited Arnia town, border villages and relief camps today and assured people of full protection. He inter-acted with BSF and police officers and reviewed situation with them. He lauded the courage displayed by the police personnel in risking their lives to save injured civilians. He called upon the police to maintain patrolling in the town and villages and ensure protection of the people. Sources said over a dozen forward villages of RS Pura including Nikowal, Chakroi, Basspur, Choga, Abdullian, Khatmarian, Korotana, Sangral, Joura Farm and surroundings were hit by mortar shelling throughout the last night. The deafening sound of mortar explosions was heard in RS Pura town and surroundings, triggering panic among the people. Several houses were directly hit by mortar shells but people inside had narrow escape as most of them had taken shelter in the bunkers anticipating firing in RS Pura sector after Arnia. Only a 10 years old boy was injured in the firing but several cattle were killed or injured in forward village of Flora. The houses also suffered extensive damage. Some people from Flora, Abdullian, Basspur and other forward villages left their houses this morning and took shelter in the houses of their relatives or Government educational institutions, which have already been identified by them for the administration as relief camps like August when similar kind of shelling and firing had taken place on the IB. SHO RS Pura Inspector Bushan Manhas along with police teams visited forward villages and inter-acted with the people. Sources said almost all forward villages in Kanachak and Pargwal sectors falling on the IB were hit by mortar shells from Pakistan side during the night causing extensive damage to houses and injuring three civilians. Several cattle were killed or injured in the shelling. Additional SP Jammu ML Kaith and SDPO Naresh Singh, who rushed to the forward villages, said the people of Nai Basti in Pargwal, which bore brunt of the shelling, migrated in the middle of night leaving behind their belongings and took shelter in Government Higher Secondary School, Pargwal. Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand visited the school at 2.30 am and inquired condition of the migrants. He directed police to provide all possible facilities to the people. 'Mortar shells continued to rain throughout the night in all forward villages of Kanachak and Pargwal sectors, creating fear psychosis among the people, who spent sleepless nights and had a sigh of relief only when the shelling stopped this morning,' locals said, adding even during the day the people didn't venture out in the fields anticipating that shelling could resume anytime. On the Line of Control (LoC) also, there was no let up in shelling and firing by Pakistan Army in Mendhar, Balakote and Poonch sectors. In the morning, Pakistan Army targeted forward Army posts and villages at Balnoi in Mendhar followed by Sona Gali in the same sector in the afternoon. In the evening, Pakistan Army started shelling at Kirni, Kasba and Shahpur in Poonch sector. A defence spokesman said Pakistan Army violated ceasefire at Banwat and Hamipur in Poonch by resorting to unprovoked firing at 4.20 pm with small arms and mortars. 'Army retaliated effectively and appropriately,' he said. Meanwhile, 11 civilians injured last night in Pakistan shelling and firing have been identified as Gian Chand, 82 and his wife Shammi Devi, 80, both residents of Treva, Arnia, Krishan Lal, 64, son of Ram Rakha, Sham Lal Saini, 58, son of Sai Dass, Pankaj Gupta, 25, son of Bodh Raj, Dwarka Nath, 64, son of Om Prakash and Kiran Bala, 35, wife of Sham Lal, all residents of Arnia town, Shammi Devi wife of Gian Chand R-o Treva, Ankush, 10, son of Madan Lal R-o Flora, RS Pura, Faizi wife of Mohammad Hussain, a resident of Chinore Farm, Kanachak, Parveen Kumar, 27, son of Mula Ram and his sister Pummy Devi, 17, residents of Deora, Pargwal. The injured were admitted in the Government Medical College (GMC), Jammu and Sub District Hospital, Akhnoor. A Pakistan media report claimed that 9 Pakistani civilians have been injured and scores of others injured in retaliatory firing by the BSF on the International Border.