Pak Army Targets Eid Revelers On LoC, Injures 5 Civilians

18 July 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Pakistan Army today didn't spare the Eid revelers along the Line of Control (LoC) in Shahpur area of Poonch sector by directly targeting civilian population in three villages with heavy mortar and RPG shells causing serious injuries to five of them including three women while the Indian troops responded with small arms firing only to ensure that there were no civilian casualties on other side of the LoC during Eid festival. Amidst growing tensions between the two neighbouring countries, there was no exchange of sweets between the troops at any place on the LoC and the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir on the occasion of Eid festival, a practice that was being followed by the two sides for past several years on the occasion of all major festivals and Independence Days of the two nations. At Wagah in Amritsar district of Punjab also, the sweets were not exchanged. Official sources told the Excelsior that Pakistan Army started shelling and firing on three forward villages-Shahpur, Kasba and Gountri in Shahpur area of Poonch sector at 1.25 pm today when the people were busy celebrating Eid in their houses. Pakistan Army fired 82mm mortar, RPG (Rocket Projectile Gun) shells and Pika gun ammunition directly targeting Army posts and civilian areas, creating panic among the civil population engaged in Eid celebrations. Indian Army retaliated with small arms firing to silence Pakistani guns but, at the same time, ensure that there were no civilian casualties on Pakistan side, where also Eid was being celebrated with fervor. Several mortar and RPG shells fell close to houses of the people at Shahpur, Kasba and Gountri causing injuries to five civilians including three women. A number of houses suffered extensive damage in the three villages. The injured have been identified as Begum Jan, 47, wife of Mohammad Kabeer, Shafeeda Kousar, 9, daughter of Mohammad Rafiq and Rabeena Kousar, 20, wife of Saleem Iqbal, all residents of Kasba, Qamar Din son of Wali Mohammad and Mohammad Younis son of Mir Hussain, both residents of Shahpur. Army and police evacuated the injured from their houses amidst shelling and firing and shifted them to the District Hospital Poonch , where condition of all of them was stated to be serious but they were responding to the treatment. SSP Poonch Jatinder Singh Johar, DC Poonch Nissar Wani and Incharge DySP Sagara Singh rushed to the spot along with police teams and evacuated the injured to hospital. PRO Defence Lt Col Manish Mehta said the Pakistan Army directly targeted forward villages on the LoC. Sources said there was strong resentment among the people of border villages against Pakistan Army for disrupting their Eid celebrations by resorting to firing. Most of the people in three forward villages of Shahpur, Kasba and Gountri couldn't celebrate Eid as Pakistan Army continued to pound the three villages with mortars and RPG shells till late this evening intermittently. There were, however, no casualties or damage on the Army side in the shelling. Apart from civilian areas, Pakistan also targeted forward Indian posts with the shells. Pakistan Army has also targeted these three villages on Thursday damaging one house. The shelling stopped at 6.25 pm. Pakistani troops violated ceasefire along the LoC in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district at 9.25 pm last night by firing on forward Indian positions. The Indian side immediately retaliated, leading to exchange of firing that continued till 11.45 pm. Sources said there was no visible infiltration attempt by the militants on the LoC in Nowshera sector during exchange of firing. Meanwhile, there was no exchange of sweets between the troops at any place on the LoC and IB in Jammu and Kashmir on the occasion of Eid festival today. 'The sweets were not exchanged at any point on LoC and IB including Chakan-Da-Bagh and Roshni in Poonch sector and Kaman Post in Uri sector of Baramulla in Kashmir by the Army. The BSF and Rangers too didn't exchange sweets at Octroi Post in Suchetgarh sector of RS Pura in Jammu,' sources said. Chakan-Da-Bagh, Roshni and Kaman Post on the LoC and Octroi Post on the IB are four major points, where India and Pakistan exchange sweets during all major occasions including festivals. The sweets are also exchanged at other border points but today the exchange didn't take place anywhere in Jammu and Kashmir. Sources said there was no response from Pakistan on joint Eid celebrations at LoC as well as IB. It may be mentioned here that Pakistan Army on LoC and Rangers on the IB had been resorting to heavy shelling since July 15 targeting forward posts of Army and BSF and civilian areas. A woman was killed while five civilians including two BSF jawans and three civilians were injured in Pakistan shelling at Kanachak and Pargwal on July 15 while the next day four civilians were injured in RS Pura. Pakistan media had claimed that four civilians were killed on their side of the border in Sialkot during retaliatory firing by the BSF. Meanwhile, Pakistani Rangers today refused to accept the sweets offered by the BSF on the occasion of Eid along the Attari-Wagah border in Amritsar in Punjab. BSF Deputy Inspector General in Amritsar, M F Farooqui, told reporters that their gesture of giving sweets on the occasion of Eid was not reciprocated from the other side along the Attari-Wagah border. 'We give sweets on Eid every time. The Rangers have not accepted it today. We always want to maintain peace and tranquility on the border,' he said. A senior BSF commander at its headquarters in Delhi said that the force did not 'offer' Eid sweets along the IB to Rangers as a mark of protest against the ongoing spate of ceasefire violations along this frontier and also the Line of Control (LoC) which have claimed few lives and injured many in the last few days. Officials said the exchange of sweets along the Indo-Pak border during big festivals on either side takes place at about 18-20 locations and at about 5-6 places the exchange did take place today.