War Like Situation On IB

5 January 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: After a day's lull yesterday, the Rangers joined by Pakistan Army today resorted to heavy mortar shelling and firing using long range weapons targeting about 28 BSF posts and more than 70 border villages in Hiranagar and Samba sectors this afternoon killing a BSF jawan and causing extensive damage to civilian property including houses, cattle sheds and other structures forcing more people to migrate taking number of migrants putting up in relief camps till tonight to 9300 and it was swelling. Several cattle perished in the firing. After the Rangers suffered seven fatal casualties in retaliatory firing by the BSF, Pakistan Army is reported to have replaced Rangers in most of the posts and pounded forward BSF pickets and villages with heavy shelling by 82mm mortar and sophisticated weapons in Hiranagar and Samba sectors at 2.30 pm today. Pakistan forces used long range weapons to target civilian population, which was evident from the fact that mortar shells were landing even four kilometers inside the Indian territory. It was due to use of long range shelling weapons that mortar shells even landed in the villages like Chakra, Sherpur, Lachipur and Londi in Hiranagar sector, which were located at a distance of over 3.5 kilometers from the International Border. A mortar shell exploded in the premises of Government Middle School, Sherpur. A BSF jawan Devinder Singh, who was manning forward Khwara post in Samba sector, was killed in intense shelling by Pakistan Army and Rangers this afternoon. The jawan sustained serious injuries after his post was directly hit by mortar shell. He succumbed to his injuries on way to hospital in Samba. Singh was posted with 9 BSF and hailed from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh. However, there was no report of any civilian casualty so far in the shelling and firing today while several cattle were either killed or injured after being hit by splinters of the shells and bullets in both Hiranagar and Samba sectors, which were being constantly targeted by Pakistan for the past about one week leading to three fatal casualties so far including two BSF jawans and a woman while 10 civilians have been injured seriously. Two Army jawans were killed in Pakistan firing at Tangdhar sector in Kashmir last week. Late in the evening, Pakistani Rangers opened new front on the IB in Arnia sector by firing two mortar shells-first at 7.30 pm and second at 8.40 pm followed by small arms firing. However, no one was injured. The shells exploded in the fields. Sources said Pakistani guns started pounding nearly 28 BSF posts and more than 70 border villages simultaneously at 2.30 pm today in Hiranagar and Samba sectors with heavy intensity. Several mortar shells landed as far as four kilometers inside the Indian territory in the civilian areas. A number of mortar shells fell inside houses of the people in forward villages of Khwara, Rajpura, Chalariyan and Bain Galard in Samba sector, Bobiya, Londi and Paharpur in Hiranagar sector. While the authorities were yet to assess exact damage caused to houses and other structures in the forward areas due to continued shelling and firing till tonight, rough estimates revealed that nearly 250 houses and structures have suffered damage from heavy to partial in week long shelling and firing from Pakistan side in the two sectors. Shelling and firing stopped in Samba sector at 5.30 pm but continued in Hiranagar sector till 8 pm. However, there was no firing in the two sectors after 8 pm. Pakistan claimed that its two civilians were killed in BSF firing at Zaffarwal Sector of Sialkot. BSF, however, targeting civilian areas. At all the places, the BSF gave very effective response of shelling and firing to Pakistan to silence guns of the enemy. 'It was virtually a war like situation with sound of mortar shell explosions and firing with heavy automatic weapons shaking not only Hiranagar and Samba sectors but even the towns and the National Highway. This was for the first time that mortar shells landed four kilometers inside the border and exploded outside the houses and in the fields, causing heavy loss of property,' sources said, adding 'this clearly indicated that the Pakistan Army has replaced the Rangers in most of the posts in Sialkot sector opposite Samba and Hiranagar to target the BSF posts and civilian areas on the Indian side'. The long range weapons used in firing mortar shells deep inside the Indian villages are in possession of Pakistan Army only and not the Rangers, sources said. Intelligence inputs also suggested that the Rangers have been replaced by Pakistan Army after former's complete failure on the IB. Seven Rangers have so far been killed in the past one week in retaliatory firing by the BSF. Meanwhile, fresh shelling and firing and landing of mortar shells deep inside the villages today led to more migration from the border villages in Samba and Hiranagar sectors. Sources said number of the migrants had touched 9300 in Samba and Hiranagar sectors and it was swelling. Authorities were anticipating spurt in migration once the firing and shelling stopped. SSP Samba Anil Magotra said police rescued a number of civilians from the forward villages in bullet-proof bunkers and lodged them at the relief camps. In some of the villages, people took shelters in the bunkers inside their houses or hid themselves behind the walls to survive. 'It was very tough task. We had very miraculous escape. The mortar shells even crossed over house and landed in the fields,' Sham Kumar, a resident of Chalarian said on telephone while narrating extreme tough five hours from 2.30 pm onwards during which Pakistan heavily pounded the Indian civilian areas. Sham along with his family and entire village later shifted to relief camp. Deputy Commissioner, Samba Mubarak Singh told the Excelsior that till late tonight 5000 people have migrated from forward villages to nine relief camps-three each in Samba, Ghagwal and Ramgarh so far. He admitted that number of the migrants could go up by the midnight tonight as some people were waiting for shelling and firing to completely stop to migrate. He added that a number of people were rescued in bullet-proof bunkers and police vehicles as they were trapped in shelling and firing. Deputy Commissioner, Kathua, Dr Shahid Iqbal said in the wake of intensive shelling in Hiranagar sector of Kathua district, more relief camps were today opened to accommodate the people leaving their houses in the border areas. 'More than 2500 people have been evacuated to safer places taking number of the migrants in relief camps 4300. Due to intense shelling further evacuation process has been withheld to avoid targeting of buses ferrying border residents. However, three bulletproof vans were pressed into action at Bobiya, Paharpur, Manyari and other forward areas. Four more relief camps have been opened taking number of the camps to 14,' Dr Iqbal said. Dr Iqbal, SSP Kathua Pawan Parihar, Additional SP Nasir Ahmed, SDM Sohan Lal and SDPO Hiranagar Diwakar Singh rushed to forward areas to oversee evacuation and rescue process. Sources said relief camps have been opened at Sallan, Chhankhatryan, Chak Haria and Upper Londi. More blankets and ration items have been dispatched for camps. Five milch animals of Hans Raj and Beli Ram of village Manyari were killed in shelling which also damaged 12 houses partially while concrete slab of house of Mohan Lal R-O Manyari was pierced by shelling damaging the house, they said, adding that number of migrants is expected to cross 12,000 as more than 50 villages have been affected with increased intensity and range of shelling. The emergency response centre established by district administration at Hiranagar has issued high alert in wake of heavy shelling which has affected more population and areas. The migrants of Samba sector have been lodged in Chichi Mata ji temple, Government higher secondary school, Rajpura, Kalibari Community Hall, Kabir temple at Rakh Amb Tali, Avtaal Community Hall in Ramgarh and Treli Mandir. Some other relief camps have been identified and would be opened on arrival of the border migrants. 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 Sodoh have been lodged in Kalibari Community Centre. Migrants have also been lodged in Banyari school. Authorities have identified more relief camps in Hiranagar as they were expecting number of the migrants to swell once firing and shelling stopped completely. 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.