Tension Escalates On IB: Woman Killed, 10 Injured In Pak Shelling

3 January 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: After killing of seven Rangers and a BSF jawan, tension further escalated on the International Border today as Pakistani Rangers pounded all forward villages and BSF posts in Hiranagar and Samba sectors killing a woman and injuring 10 civilians, some of them seriously, while over 3000 people have so far migrated from border areas of two sectors and took shelter in the relief camps. About 100 houses and structures and nearly 50 vehicles suffered extensive to partial damage in heavy mortar shelling and firing by the Rangers that continued most part of the last night. However, the civilian casualties were reported in the shelling that took place this morning and in the evening. Till late tonight when the reports last came in, exchange of firing and shelling had stopped in Samba and Hiranagar sectors. No shots were heard after 6.30 pm in any area on the IB. Official sources told the Excelsior that last night's shelling and firing by the Rangers in Hiranagar and Samba sectors, which was retaliated effectively by the BSF, stopped at about 4 am early today. However, as soon as the people came out of their houses in the border villages to start routine work at around 7.30 am, the Rangers directly targeted the civilian population causing injuries to 10 civilians-five each in Samba and Hiranagar sectors. A woman injured in the firing at Bain Galard in Samba later succumbed to her injuries. Another woman was injured in the shelling at Bain Galard this evening. Several mortar shells landed inside houses of the people in forward villages of Pangdour, Chak Dulma, Chak Faquira, Mangu Chak, Khowara, Regal, Chalariyan, Suchetpur, Suchetgarh Kullian, Chachwal, Bain Galard in Samba sector and Londi, Bobiya, Karol, Pansar, Manyari, Paharpur, Muthi Charu, Katau, Pansar, Rathua, Kadyala, Bobiya, Patti, Ladwal, Karol Krishna, Krol Bidho, Krol Kadyala and Chan Lal Din in Hiranagar sector sending the people running for cover inside bunkers, houses and boundary walls. The people, who were working in premises of their houses or fields, were hit by splinters of mortar shells and bullets, leading to injuries. The woman, who was killed in the shelling, has been identified as Toshi Devi, 42, wife of Som Raj, a resident of Mangu Chak, Samba, a village, which was worst hit by shelling in the morning with several mortar shells landing inside the houses of the people causing extensive damage to the structures and vehicles, mostly two wheelers, which had been parked outside. Ten civilians injured in the shelling in Samba and Hiranagar sectors have been identified as Toshi Devi's 12 years old son Rahul Kumar, Pawan Kumar, 29, son of Gurdas Chand, Neetu Sharma, 35, son of Labba Ram and Kamla Choudhary, 45, wife of Bhagwan Dass, all residents of Bain Galard in Samba, Naresh Bandral, 18, son of Mullan Singh R-o Nou Chak, Manso, 10, son of Vijay Kumar R-o Chan Lal Din, Madu Bala, 40, wife of Pawan Kumar R-o Chan Lal Din, Rajani, 30, daughter of Prem Kumar R-o Ward No. 7, Kathua and Kamlesh Kumari, 35, wife of Ashok Kumar R-o Chan Lal Din, Hiranagar. While Kamla Choudhary was injured in Pakistan shelling this evening, all other civilian casualties were reported in the morning. Some cattle also perished in Pakistan shelling and firing, sources said. Sources said the guns fell silent at around 4 am today but the Rangers against started shelling at 7.30 am, which continued for about two and half hours in both Hiranagar and Samba sectors. The shelling again took place between 5 pm to 6 pm. All forward villages and BSF posts in entire Hiranagar and Samba sectors came under intense shelling and firing of the Rangers, which the BSF responded effectively. The BSF, however, didn't target civilian areas of Pakistan even though Pakistan Army claimed in Islamabad that a 13 years old girl was killed in the shelling on their side. BSF sources said the Rangers fired 82mm mortars directly targeting the civilian locations in Samba and Hiranagar. The BSF, they added, responded effectively. Pakistan has suffered heavy collateral damage, they said, adding the BSF would not open the firing first but retaliate effectively as and when Pakistani Rangers resort to firing and shelling. Pakistan had opened firing on the BSF killing a jawan and injuring another. In retaliation, the BSF has killed seven Rangers so far leading panic on Pakistan side. The panic stricken Pakistan was now targeting civilian areas of Samba and Hiranagar sectors. Meanwhile, over 3000 people have so far migrated till tonight from border villages of Samba and Hiranagar sectors to safer locations in the relief camps set up by civil and police administration. Deputy Commissioner, Samba Mubarak Singh and SSP Samba Anil Magotra said 1100 people from Bain Galard and Chak Faquira villages have been accommodated in Chichi Mata Ji temple at Samba. While 200 people from Chachwal, Chalaria and Mangu chak were lodged at Government higher secondary school Rajpura. About 50 people from Regal were kept at Treli Mandir, Rajpura. 16 temporary shelter camps have been established in the district to lodge the border people in case of more migration from the border villages. The Deputy Commissioner and the SSP Samba accompanied by Additional SP Samba Faisal Qureshi visited some of the forward villages to assess the damage caused to houses, cowsheds and other structures and assured the people of adequate compensation. In Hiranagar sector, the authorities have accommodated migrants from Pansar, Rathua and Kadyala villages in Government higher secondary school, Chadwal while the migrants of Bobiya, Patti, Ladwal, Karol Krishna, Krol Bidho and Krol Kadyala were lodged in Government higher secondary schools of boys and girls at Hiranagar. The people of Chan Lal Din were sheltered at Hariya Chak Middle and Primary Schools and Nagyal Prime School. The migrants from village Sadoh village have been lodged in Kalibari Community Centre. Authorities have also identified Banyari school and more relief camps in Hiranagar if the migrants escalated in view of continued shelling and firing from Pakistan side. Deputy Commissioner, Kathua Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, SSP Kathua Pawan Parihar and SDPO Hiranagar Diwakar Singh visited forward villages and relief camps to take stock of the situation. The firing victims were evacuated by the police parties of Hiranagar led by Diwakar Singh in bullet-proof bunkers amidst continued shelling from across the border. Sources said the migration started after fresh shelling from Pakistan at 7.30 am today in which the Rangers directly targeted the civil population. Official sources, confirmed migration of 1750 people in Hiranagar sector and 1350 persons in Samba sector but admitted that the number was increasing with every passing hour with more people pouring in at the relief camps. Terror seems to have returned to the border areas in Hiranagar and Samba sectors, where heavy mortar shelling by Pakistan Rangers since the past 12 hours, has triggered migration from the affected border villages. 'We are leaving our homes and hearths shelled by Pakistan since last night. We are going to shelter camps. There is no end to the firing during past 12 hours,' Namrita Devi of Bain Galard village in Samba district said. 'We have become sitting ducks on the border for Pak guns. We are constantly living under fear and terror. When we go to fields or walk on roads we do not know when we will fall to their bullets,' said Arvind Kumar, a shopkeeper from Mangu Chack area in Samba. The distraught people in long serpentine lines were seen leaving from the border hamlets in bull-carts, trucks, tempos and tractor trolleys. In some of the villages, the district administration of Samba and Kathua had arranged bullet-proof bunkers and other police vehicles to shift civilians to safer locations but majority of civilians had to leave their homes in tractor-trolleys and other modes of transport on their own. The border dwellers continue to live under constant fear that frequent ceasefire violations would terminate the decade old truce agreement, putting their lives in peril. 'We want ceasefire initiated by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003 to stay, so that we can live in peace. In the 2013 and 2014, there has been a massive spike in ceasefire violations that have made our life hell,' Kartar Singh, a resident of Bain Galard said. Dressed in battle fatigues and bullet-proof jackets, BSF jawans criss-cross through their posts and Ditch Cum Bandh (DCBs) ready to retaliate strongly. 'We are giving a befitting reply. The moral of jawans is high,' Rakesh Sharma, IG BSF said, adding that troops have been alerted against the vicious design of Pakistani Rangers. Over 550 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan occurred in 2014, the highest since the truce came into force in 2003, with the Indo-Pak border witnessing the worst such escalation during August to October which left 13 people, including 2 security personnel dead. Over 32,000 border people were forced to leave their homes and take shelter in camps set up by the Government in August and October last years due to heavy firing and shelling by Pakistani troops along the International Border and Line of Control. A total of 19 people, including 5 jawans, were killed and over 150 injured in such incidents last year. 'Last year has seen the highest ceasefire violations by Pakistan, targeting civilian areas and forward border posts along LoC and IB in Jammu and Kashmir during last 11 years of its existence,' Col S D Goswami, PRO of Northern Command said.