In what may be called the biggest ceasefire violation during the current year, Pakistani Rangers, ahead of the Foreign Secretary talks between India-Pakistan, targeted Border Security Force forward positions and residential areas along the international border in Arnia and R S Pura sectors throughout last night.
A civilian was injured along with half a dozen cattle and various structures were damaged.
A BSF spokesman here said that 20 BSF border outposts were affected by Pakistani fire. However, while there was no casualty or damage on BSF side, injuries among civilians and damage to their property was being ascertained, he added.
However, reports appearing in Pakistan media said that at least two Chenab Rangers and a civilian were injured on its side of the border in firing by BSF in Charwah and Chaprar sectors near Sialkot. Pointing out that some livestock were also killed in firing from Indian side, these reports said that the firing which began on Sunday night and continued till Monday morning, came days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused Pakistan of waging a proxy war in Kashmir.
Meanwhile, identifying the injured civilian as Attar Singh of Treva in Arnia sector, sources said the continued Pakistani firing has led to tension in border areas with people not prepared to venture out in the open especially their fields. They were reluctant even to spend nights in their houses as mortar shells are raining on residential areas as well. Though there has been no migration of people from border villages, it can start if situation does not improve, sources said.
The local villagers from Korotana held a demonstration against the Omar Abdullah government and, also, the local BJP MP Jugal Kishore Sharma in protest over their callous attitude towards the miseries of border villagers, especially when Pakistani bullets and mortars were raining on their houses. Choudhary Mohan Singh, a social activist and local Congress leader, asked both the Central and the state governments to initiate steps for safety of people living in border areas.
The latest incident of firing from across the border, which began around 9.50 pm on Sunday with the firing of two mortars by Pakistan on a BSF post in Arnia sector, has been the 12th during the current month. It soon spread to most part of the international border in Arnia and R S Pura sectors compelling the BSF to retaliate with equal caliber weapons. The exchange of fire continued throughout the night.
Earlier during wee hours of Sunday, the Pakistani Rangers and troops had resorted to unprovoked firing at various places along the international border in R S Pura, Arnia sectors and the Line of Control in Poonch. Pakistan has been resorting to unprovoked firing on Indian side both along the international border and the LoC at frequent intervals since August 5.
Initially, the unprovoked firing by Pakistan took place on the LoC in Poonch on August 5 and it later later spread to international border with Rangers targeting even residential areas in Arnia and R S Pura sectors with mortar shells on August 11. Early last week, four people including two BSF jawans were injured in firing by Pakistani Rangers in Arnia sector. Some structures had also sustained damage when Pakistani mortars fell in residential areas.
Tension has been mounting along the international border in R S Pura and Arnia sectors following repeated incidents of ceasefire violation by Pakistan Rangers during the last many days. In view of the mounting tension, there had been no exchange of sweets between the two sides on the international border in Jammu frontier despite Pakistan’s goodwill gesture of returning a BSF jawan to India after he had swept across the border by Chenab waters.
Sources attributed the ceasefire violations as cover fire by Pakistani troops to terrorists who have been desperate to sneak into the state ahead of the coming assembly polls which are likely to take place by year end.