October 2016 News

CM Calls UHQ Meet As Tension Escalates On Indo-Pak Borders

22 October 2016
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti will chair meeting of the Unified Headquarters in Srinagar, summer capital of the State, on October 25, which will be her second as the Chief Minister and first during three and half month long Kashmir unrest, post-surgical strikes and Indo-Pak skirmishes on the borders. The meeting, which will be attended by top Army Commanders, security force, police, Intelligence and civil officers, will be held at Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC). Official sources told the Excelsior that Kashmir unrest, which has crossed three and half months in which about 90 civilians have been killed so far, situation on the borders with Pakistan post-September 29 surgical strikes, internal law and order situation, civil-military liaison issues like handover-takeover of land and requirements of security forces were high on agenda of the Unified Headquarters meeting, which was last held on May 10 in Srinagar, a little over a month after the takeover of Mehbooba Mufti as the Chief Minister on April 4. Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, top Commanders of the Army including Northern Command chief Lt Gen DS Hooda, Chief Secretary, BR Sharma, DGP K Rajendra, GOCs of all Corps operating in Jammu and Kashmir apart from Western Command officials, top brass of BSF and CRPF, Jammu and Kashmir Police, Intelligence agencies and civil administration will attend the meeting. CRPF has been dealing with over three and half month long protests in Kashmir along with Jammu and Kashmir Police. The Unified Headquarters meeting assumed significance as this was the first meeting after unrest spread in the Valley in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8 and has so far taken the toll of about 90 lives. Steps required to contain the unrest were high on the agenda. Similarly, the border skirmishes between India and Pakistan, which has led to migration at some places, will also figure in the meeting. Increase in infiltration and militancy will be discussed threadbare, sources said. Meanwhile, there was no let up in heavy shelling and firing from Pakistan side on both International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC) with heavy shelling and firing in RS Pura sector in Jammu district, Manjakote in Rajouri and Tarkundi in Poonch district. Shelling and firing stopped at about 3 am today but, during the day, the borders remained peaceful. Deputy Commissioner, Kathua, Ramesh Kumar said there was no blanket ban on opening of Government schools on the borders and the SDM Hiranagar has been asked to take decision depending on the situation. Hiranagar is worst hit by the shelling and people from Bobiya, from where the BSF had gunned down seven Pakistani Rangers and two militants in the past three days. A BSF jawan, Gurnam Singh was seriously injured. Several structures including houses and cattle shed were damaged while half a dozen cattle of Krishan Lal were killed in Pakistan shelling at Korotana Khurd in RS Pura sector last mid-night. In addition to Korotana Khurd, Pakistani Rangers also pounded Abdullian and Tube Well No. 5 areas of RS Pura with 82mm mortars and heavy fire arms overnight. Additional DG BSF (Western Command), Chandigarh, Arun Kumar reached here this afternoon and visited the Government Medical College (GMC), Jammu, where Gurnam Singh was admitted. He enquired condition of the injured from family members and assured all steps for specialized medicare of the injured BSF jawans. Kumar, who later reviewed situation along the Indo-Pakistan borders with senior BSF officers including IG BSF, Jammu Frontiers, DK Upadhyaya, said the Centre, State and BSF have assured full help for treatment of the injured jawans but what matters is the advice of doctors. The Special DG BSF reviewed the situation on frontiers and lauded courage of the BSF jawans, who had during past three days killed seven Pakistani Rangers and two terrorists across Bobiya area of Hiranagar sector in Kathua district. Meanwhile, escalating cross border firing, Pakistani Rangers overnight pounded border hamlets and outposts with mortar shells and opened fire from automatic weapons in R S Pura sector. 'There has been heavy firing and mortar shelling along the IB in R S Pura belt during the night', sources said. The fresh firing and shelling comes after Pakistani Rangers violated the ceasefire six times yesterday. 'The BSF has asked the authorities to ensure safety of the people as firing and shelling exchanges have increased. We do not want civilians to suffer', sources said. They said Pakistani Rangers tried to snipe at a jawan on a Observation tower but he jumped from it. The jawan injured his feet in the process. Due to firing and shelling in the border areas, over 1000 people living close to the IB in Hiranagar and other places have migrated to safety. Some of them were yesterday evacuated from the forward areas including Bobiya and Londi in Hiranagar sector. Apart from firing, Pakistani Rangers fired 60 and 81 mm mortar bomb shells intermittently from 11 PM and it continued till early morning in Bidipur and Korotana in RS Pura sector. Due to firing and shelling, five cattle were killed and another seriously injured. The administration has advised the people to stay indoors during the day time also as there is likelihood of shelling even during the day. 'Officers have been told to close all the schools in villages which are vulnerable as a precautionary measure', sources said. As many as 50 to 80 schools in these border areas have been directed to be shut by the district administration as a precautionary measure, sources said. Pakistan troops had yesterday violated the ceasefire six times. Pakistani troops targeted five sectors of R S Pura (Jammu), Hiranagar (Kathua), Samba, Pargwal (Jammu) along IB and Rajouri and Mendhar (Poonch) along LoC by resorting to small arms firing and mortar shelling resulting in serious injuries to a BSF jawan. There have been over 37 ceasefire violations along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir after surgical strikes by Army troops in PoK to dismantle terror launching pads. Bullet proof vehicles were pressed into service overnight to evacuate over 400 people rattled by the sound of Pakistani mortar bombing and firing in border hamlets. Border dwellers in Bobiya and adjoining hamlets in Hiranagar sector in Kathua district have been experiencing sleepless nights due to the intensified shelling and firing by Pakistani Rangers on October 20 and 21. Police armed with bullet proof vehicles criss crossed the shell-hit hamlets particularly Bobiya last night carrying loads of scared villagers. They were ferried to the camps setup by the district administration at Government Higher Secondary School in Hiranagar and another school at Chhan Khatrian. 'Due to heavy firing and shelling for two days and the fear psychosis among the border residents, we pressed into service bullet proof vehicles to evacuate them', sources said Over 400 people from IB hamlets were evacuated and shifted to the safer areas in camps set up by the Government. They were accommodated in Government Higher Secondary School, Hiranagar while 145 people of Londi and Rajgrain Brahamana were lodged in Government Middle School, Chhan Khatrian. Some families had left for the houses of their relatives, sources said. 'We were very terrorized this time due to heavy shelling and firing by Pakistan', Manak Chand of Bobiya said at camp here. 70-year-old Chand said, 'The windows of our houses were shaking with the sound of mortar bombs and firing of heavy weapons. It was unbearable to stay in home after being witness to the two days of firing'. Like him, Sukho Devi migrated from the hamlet several times and this is another exodus from her border home. 'We have fled homes several times in the past few decades and before that in wars. It is now a routine for us as border people live in the jaws of deaths. You never know what is going to happen next moment,' she added. Some people returned to their villages this morning leaving behind the elderly, women and children in migrant camps in Hiranagar because they have to take care of the harvest season. 'We were engaged in harvesting when Pakistani firing forced us to abandon it. Even moving outside in open is now dangerous as Pakistani snipers and troops are awaiting to hit us', Sham Singh said. The administration has once again put the Contingency Plan in place for the border migrants as shelling and firing also extended to Samba and Jammu districts.

Line