LoC firing: Over 1000 villagers flee to shelter camps after fear returns to Indo-Pak border

Pakistani troops targeted villages, 13 outposts in Kathua and Samba districts

Beingallar, Samba: Terror seems to have returned to the Indo-Pak border areas in Jammu and Kashmir, where heavy mortar shelling by Pakistan Rangers since the past twelve hours, has triggered migration from the affected border villages.

"We are leaving our homes and hearths shelled by Pakistan since last night. We are going to shelter camps. There is no end to the firing during past 12 hours," Namrita Devi of Beingallar area in Samba district said.

A woman was on Saturday killed and eight other civilians were injured as Pakistani troops targeted villages and 13 border outposts with heavy mortar shelling in Kathua and Samba districts in the state.

Read: 1 killed, 9 injured in heavy firing by Pakistan along International Border in Jammu and Kashmir

The fresh ceasefire violations have triggered migration from border villages and over 1000 people have been evacuated from hamlets in Kathua and Samba districts, officials said. The latest round of firing by Pakistan which started on New Year eve has left two persons dead, including a BSF jawan and nine injured while five Pakistani Rangers have been killed in retaliatory firing by India. It comes barely two months after the last major escalation that left 13 people dead and displaced 32,000 border residents.

"We have become sitting ducks on the border for Pak guns. We are constantly living under fear and terror. When we go to fields or walk on roads we do not know when we will fall to their bullets," says Arvind Kumara, a shopkeeper from Mangu Chack area here.

The distraught people in long serpentine lines were seen leaving from the border hamlets in bull-carts, trucks, tempos and tractor trolleys.

"Over 4 villages have been evacuated apart from 300 border people in Kathua district," Shahid Iqbal Choduhary, Deputy Commissioner, Kathua told PTI. "Four people have suffered injuries. We are awaiting shelling to stop so that we can evacuate people from 57 border hamlets, if required," he said.

The border dwellers continue to live under constant fear that frequent ceasefire violations would terminate the decade old truce agreement, putting their lives in peril.

"We want ceasefire initiated by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003 to stay, so that we can live in peace.

In the 2013 and 2014, there has been a massive spike in ceasefire violations that have made our life hell," Kartar Singh, a resident of Beingallar said.

Read: Pak violating ceasefire despite our hand of friendship: Rajnath Singh

Mubarak Singh, Deputy Commissioner Samba said that firing and shelling is going on in the border area and once it stops, the authority will evacuate the people along the border. However, people have migrated from the villages and are being put in shelter camps, he said.

The newly elected BJP Member from Vijaypur Assembly segment Chander Prakash Ganga said that BSF is retaliating with full vigour to the Pak firing.

"Pak is always up to mischief on the borders. But we have a strong government at the Centre which will not take it lying down," Ganga said adding that the border people will be evacuated and put in camps safely.

Dressed in battle fatigues and bullet-proof jackets, BSF jawans criss-cross through their posts and Ditch Cum Bandh (DCBs) ready to retaliate strongly.

"We are giving a befitting reply. The moral of jawans is high," Rakesh Sharma, IG BSF said, adding that troops have been alerted against the vicious design of Pakistani Rangers.

Over 550 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan occurred in 2014, the highest since the truce came into force in 2003, with the Indo-Pak border witnessing the worst such escalation during August to October which left 13 people, including 2 security personnel dead.

Over 32,000 border people were forced to leave their homes and take shelter in camps set up by the government in August and October due to heavy firing and shelling by Pakistani troops along the international border and Line of Control. A total of 19 people, including 5 jawans, were killed and over 150 injured in such incidents last year.

"Last year has seen the highest ceasefire violations by Pakistan, targeting civilian areas and forward border posts along LoC and IB in Jammu and Kashmir during last 11 years of its existence," Col S D Goswami, PRO of Northern Command said.

( Source : PTI )
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