Hundreds of panic-stricken villagers fled their homes and took shelter either at houses of their relatives or at relief camps set up by the government
Jammu: Five people, including a 70-year-old woman, were injured as Pakistani Rangers on Tuesday fired mortar shells on forward posts and villages along the International Border (IB) in the Jammu region for the eighth day, officials said.
Hundreds of panic-stricken villagers fled their homes and took shelter either at houses of their relatives or at relief camps set up by the government. Educational institutions in the affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir remained closed.
Four people — Kaushalya Devi, 70, Madan Lal Bhagat, 48, Des Raj, 52, and Thudu Ram, 65, — were injured in the firing in Jammu district’s Arnia and RS Pura sectors, the officials said.
They said that 22-year-old Aman Singh of Bobiyan village was injured in Pakistani mortar shelling in Kathua district’s Hiranagar sector.
The firing from across the border was intense. Dozens of villages along the IB were hit by 80mm and 120mm mortar shells. This led to a fire breaking out this morning at Jora Farm, a hamlet of milkmen, the officials said.
Two dozen kullas (grass-cum-mud houses) were gutted in the fire, they added.
The fire was put out by fire and emergency services personnel who despite the shelling managed to reach the hamlet, the officials said.
Firing stopped at most of the places in the afternoon, but was still going on intermittently at a few places in Samba district, they said.
Earlier in the day, a senior BSF official said that the firing and shelling continued unabated throughout the night and spread to all sectors along the border from Akhnoor to Samba.
Pakistani Rangers suffered several casualties with a number of their bunkers getting hit during the skirmishes in prompt retaliation by the Border Security Force (BSF).
“It has been learnt that one of the injured Rangers has been shifted to the Lahore hospital, while two others are being treated at a local hospital,” the official said.
Firing from the Pakistan side intensified over the past two days with villagers living close to the border escaping amid mortar shell explosions, officials said.
Several houses were damaged, they said, adding that the number of houses damaged due to shelling is being ascertained.
Inspector-General of Police, Jammu, S.D. Singh Jamwal said police parties have been deployed and they are helping people to shift to safer places from the affected areas.
Jammu Divisional Commissioner Hemant Kumar Sharma said relief camps have been set up at safer places all along the border, especially in the worst hit R.S. Pura and Arnia sectors.
Hundreds of people have reported at these camps, set up in educational institutions and other government buildings, Sharma said.
He said adequate facilities are available at these camps so that the displaced people do not face any problems.
Schools vulnerable to Pakistani shelling have been closed along the border as a precautionary measure, Sharma said.
The latest round of shelling started on May 15 when the BSF foiled two infiltration attempts by Pakistan-backed infiltrators in the Samba sector and intensified a day after Pakistan “pleading” with the force to stop firing after being pounded with heavy artillery that left a trooper dead across the border on May 20.
So far seven people, including two BSF jawans and an infant, have been killed and 18 others injured in Pakistani firing.
Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a spurt in Pakistani shelling and firing along the IB and the Line of Control (LoC) this year.
Over 700 such incidents have been reported this year, which have left a total of 39 people, including 18 security personnel, dead and scores injured.
Meanwhile, opposition National Conference on Tuesday expressed concern over the border shelling and called for peace.
“Bullets and shells are causing enormous human sufferings and this has to be stopped by working towards heralding peace and adhering to the ceasefire agreement,” Provincial President, Youth National Conference, Ajaz Jan said.