Panic Among Border Villagers As Pak Resumes Mortar Shelling

19 April 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: In a grim reminder to the border people of heavy shelling and firing in Jammu, Samba and Kathua sectors in the first week of January this year and several weeks last year in which over dozen civilians and four BSF jawans were killed, the Pakistani Rangers today resumed mortar shelling in forward villages of Hiranagar sector in Kathua district sending wave of panic among the villagers living in forward areas. Official sources told the Excelsior that the Rangers resumed shelling after the BSF jawans fired couple of UBGL rounds to thwart infiltration attempt by two militants on the International Border (IB) in Hiranagar sector at 6 pm today. Till the reports last came in, the Pakistani Rangers had fired three mortar shells at Chan Lal Din, two at Pansar and one at Chor Gali, all falling in Hiranagar sector, between 6 pm to 8 pm. However, there had been no casualties or damage in the Pakistani shelling so far. The mortar shells landed inside the villages but away from the civilian population, averting the damage. Moreover, according to sources, the civilians had taken shelter inside the houses and other safer places when the mortar shells fell in the villages as they were anticipating such an activity after unsuccessful infiltration attempt by the militants. Sources said the BSF jawans observed movement of two suspected militants about 20 meters inside the Indian territory of the border, who were trying to infiltrate into this side at about 6 pm from Hiranagar sector. To prevent the infiltration bid, the BSF jawans fired two rounds from Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL). 'The militants, who were infiltrating under the cover of grown up 'sarkanda' retreated to Pakistan after the firing,' they said, adding that in the meantime Pakistan's forward post of Abhiyal Dogra fired three 82mm mortar shells targeting Indian posts and villages. The mortar shells fired by the Rangers landed near the village Chan Lal Din triggering panic among the people living in forward areas. However, there were no casualties or damage on the Indian side in the shelling. The mortar shelling was followed by small arms firing for few minutes, sources said, adding that again at 8 pm today, the Rangers fired two more mortar shells at Pansar and one at Chor Gali in Hiranagar sector, directly targeting the civilian population, leading to panic among the villagers. Several people from the border villages in Hiranagar sector, who had to migrate in large numbers to safer areas along with people of Samba and Jammu districts last year, were apprehensive about their fate. They feared that Pakistan could again resort to mortar shelling upsetting their lives and putting them to trauma especially at a time when it was the crops season in the villages. Last year and in first week of January this year, there had been several spells of mortar shelling by Pakistan, leading to migration from the borders and killing of over dozen civilians and BSF jawans. The BSF had given effective reply to Pakistan in firing and shelling. Though the militants had retreated to Pakistan, the BSF was not taking any chances and has stepped-up vigil all along the International Border in Hiranagar sector anticipating fresh infiltration attempts by the militants. The BSF has also alerted its jawans all along the International Border in Samba, Kathua and Jammu sectors to guard against any infiltration attempt during the night. Meanwhile, DIG Jammu-Kathua range Shakeel Beig has also alerted all border police stations in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts to maintain vigil throughout the night against any unwanted movement on the borders. 'In fact, all border police stations and posts have been put on high alert following the infiltration attempt,' Beig said. It was after quite a long time that the Pakistani Rangers fired mortar shells on the forward Indian village though the Rangers continued to violate ceasefire with small arms firing on the IB quite often.