“Schools along International Border shut due to shelling”
JAMMU, MAY 21:
Pakistani troops targeted border outposts and villages with mortar shells and small arms in Jammu district today, killing an eight-month-old boy and injuring six including a special police officer, officials said.
Firing from across the border took place in several areas along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB), drawing effective retaliation from the Indian troops, the officials said.
Eight-month-old Nitin Kumar, sleeping with his family outside their home in Pallanwala sector along the LoC, was killed in Pakistani firing, while six people including the special police officer were injured in Pakistani shelling in Arnia sector along the IB.
Today’s firing, in violation of a ceasefire agreement, came two days after four civilians and a BSF jawan were killed in firing by Pakistani troops in Jammu district.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who met a few victims of Saturday’s attack, described the killings as “highly unfortunate”.
She said the attacks came when Ramzan had just begun and the people of the state had heaved a sigh of relief after the central government announced an unilateral halt to security-related operations in the state during the holy month.
Union Minister Jitendra Singh said that by killing people during the holy month of Ramzan, Pakistan “is guilty of sacrilege”.
According to the BSF, “Pakistani troops started mortar shelling in civilian areas in Arnia sector around 0700 hours.”
Border Out Posts (BoPs) of Vikram, Chinaz and Jabowal were hit by Pakistani shelling.
BSF troops guarding the border retaliated and the heavy exchange of fire between the two sides stopped around 1400 hours, a BSF officer officer said.
Pakistan Rangers rained mortar shells on Arnia town. A mortar shell landed at a police station, damaging its wall and some parked vehicles. It also killed a special police officer (SPO).
The heavy firing triggered panic among locals. Many of them fled from home and took shelter in camps set up by the government.
According to the
officials, the intense Pakistani shelling started a day after it “pleaded” with the BSF to stop firing, after being pounded with heavy artillery that left a Pakistani trooper dead.
In the firing by Pakistani troops along the LoC in Pallanwala sector in Jammu district, eight-month-old Nitin Kumar was killed in Sherpalai hamlet, a police officer said.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Jammu, Vivek Gupta said six people including the SPO and 62-year-old woman Darshana Devi were injured in Pakistani shelling and have been hospitalised.
All schools within five kilometres of the border have been closed as a precautionary measure, he said.
The state has witnessed a spurt in Pakistani shelling and firing along the IB and the LoC this year. Over 700 such incidents have been reported this year, which have left 38 people, including 18 security personnel, dead and scores injured.
The chief minister today visited the house of Tarseem Lal and his wife Manjeet Kour, who were killed in Pakistani shelling in Mangu chak belt of R S Pura sector on Saturday.
She assured all support to the victims of the border firing and consoled the families.
Interacting with the people there, the chief minister described the killings as “highly unfortunate”.
She said the people of the state, who had gone through very tough times in the past, wanted to live in an environment free from violence and killings.
She said the Centre’s move of halting security operations had generated a hope among the people who expected positive reciprocation to it from all stakeholders.
Meanwhile, Schools along a section of the International Border (IB) were on Monday shut by authorities due to firing and shelling by Pakistani troops, officials said.
The schools were in the 5-kilometre range from the IB.
“The schools along the IB in Jammu, Samba and Kathua were closed because of the firing and shelling by the Pakistani troops, divisional level officials said.
Over 150 schools are situated in the range along the IB in the region, they said.
For the past one week, Pakistani Rangers and Army have directly targeted civilians areas, killing six people, including two BSF jawans, and causing injuries to 18 people along the IB.
The officials said the situation was tense as the Pakistani troops have been firing intermittently from across the border.