Three labourers from Udhampur and Madhya Pradesh were among over half a dozen people injured in unprovoked heavy mortar shelling by Pakistani troops on Wednesday at various places along the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
According to sources, shelling from across the border started at around 7 am and is still underway. Indian troops retaliated.
With shells falling in over half a dozen villages in Balakote and Mendhar areas, sources said that four people were injured in Balakote area, two in Majakote and one in Biryani Gali areas. Some of the affected villages included Balakote, Gohlad, Phanaha Choki, Nabni, Lanjote and Rellhian.
The injured included Aijaz Khan, son of former Sarpanch of Dharati village Shadam Khan, sources said, adding that he has been rushed to Government Medical College Hospital at Jammu. Four other injured have been identified as Mohammad Zaffer of Biryani Gali, Bisu Kumar of Udhampur, Papu and his wife Humra, both Madhya Pradesh.
A number of cattle was also killed when a mortar shell fell on a cattle shed in the house of village numberdar Mohammad Arif at Sandote. A number of houses and a power transformer were also damaged in the areas.
The police, however, confirmed having received reports about the injury of two civilians in Balakote area, saying that three vehicles were also damaged in shelling from across the border.
Last Saturday, four siblings including two girls, were injured in Pakistani shelling on civilian population at Basooni and Sandote villages in Balakote sector. The injured, who happened to be the children of police head constable Mohammad Naseeb, included two minors aged 5 and 7 years.
Since last week, an army jawan and a porter have been killed and 17 people including half a dozen army personnel injured in unprovoked Pakistani mortar shelling and small arms fire along the LoC in Poonch district. The losses on Pakistan side are reported to be higher in retaliatory fire by Indian troops.
The fresh spate of ceasefire violations from across the border began two days after Pakistani troops, as a gesture of goodwill and efforts to maintain peace and tranquility along the borders, handed over a 35-year-old woman Azmat Jan to Indian army who had crossed over to Pakistan occupied Kashmir four years ago.
Sources attributed the escalation on borders to growing desperation on Pakistan side over its failure to push in armed terrorists into the state before the onset of winter when mountainous passes get closed due to snow fall. Alert BSF troops in Arnia sector had last month detected an incomplete cross border tunnel emanating from Pakistan side of the international border.
During the past two months, there have been nearly 50 infiltration attempts from across the border and 44 of them were successfully foiled by alert troops, sources said. A few terrorists who somehow managed to enter the state have been eliminated, they added.
The shelling has also caused damage to residential houses at many places, making a sizeable number of people shift to safer places, while cross LoC trade and travel between two sides through Chakkan Da Bagh on Poonch-Rawalakote road remains suspended.