Heavy Firing By Pakistan At International J&K Border; Villagers Uneasy

05/01/2015 11:53 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
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In this picture taken on January 3, 2015, an Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier fires during an ongoing anti-Taliban operation in Dangam district near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the eastern Kunar province. Afghan security forces have launched a joint anti-militant operations in several parts of Dangam district of Kunar province. So far in the operation, 157 armed insurgents have been killed and 112 others wounded, seven security personnel killed and six others were wounded in the past 25 days, police chief Abdul Habib SyedKhalil said. AFP PHOTO / Noorullah Shirzada (Photo credit should read Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images)

An uneasy calm prevailed in this last Indian village along the International Border in Samba district in Jammu and Kashmir with residents reluctant to return fearing cross-border firing from Pakistan.

The residents here say that every time there is firing from across the border they become the real targets.

Since incidents of ceasefire violations from across the border have gone up, villagers in almost all areas along the international border in Samba, Kathua and Jammu district have been forced to leave their houses and cattle behind to take shelter in safer locations.

"We don't sleep in the night as we fear that a shell fired by the Pakistani side might anytime land on our house and kill us. Our children suffer the most...their education is hampered. They also become victims of psychological trauma," Maninder Singh, a resident of Londi village, said today.

Shankar, a resident of Galard, said, "People living in safe cities don't know what we are going through. We literally die everyday."

Shankar, who along with a handful of villagers returned early this morning to the village to give fodder to their cattle, said they were forced to move to safer locations.

"Even though we want that Pakistan must be taught a tough lesson for targeting innocent villagers, we also pray that peace must return so that villagers on both sides can lead a peaceful life," said Vikram Mehra, a resident of Bobiya village of Kathua district.

Deputy Commissioner of Kathua, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary told that the villagers are scared to go back to their homes until a flag meeting is held and both sides agree to implement a ceasefire.

"We are not in a hurry to send them back to their villages until the situation on the border becomes normal again. The residents say they will return only after a flag meeting between the two sides takes place," he said.

Choudhary said, "The firing continued from 7 PM to 9 PM yesterday. After that there was no firing, but people are living in fear." He said following the heavy firing from across the border, 11 villages situated along the IB were evacuated. "A total of 1,841 people from 491 families living in 11 villages have taken shelter in 10 relief camps set up the district administration. Besides providing them with essential commodities, round-the-clock security has been provided to these camps," he said.

A report by NDTV also said that Pakistani troops targeted villages and 13 border outposts in heavy shelling since last night along the border in Kathua and Samba districts in Jammu and Kashmir, leaving six civilians injured. According to the report, the latest round of ceasefire violations by Pakistan which started on New Year eve has left a Border Security Force or BSF jawan dead and seven others injured while five Pakistani Rangers have been killed in retaliatory firing by India till yesterday, and four persons, including two women, were injured in Nauchak village in Kathua while 300 people have been shifted, officials said.

A total of 562 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan occurred in 2014, the highest since the truce came into force in 2003, along with the Indo-Pak border witnessing the worst such escalation during August to October which left 13 people, including two security personnel dead.

A total of 19 people, including 5 jawans, were killed and over 150 injured in such incidents last year.

Over 32,000 border villagers were forced to evacuate 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 IB and Line of Control (LoC).

"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. TSS AB SC SHL

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