Two civilians were killed and seven, including four Army personnel, were injured after Pakistani troops fired 120 mm and 80 mm mortar at various places in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district on the Line of Control on Saturday.
The two dead civilians were 14-year-old Afiya and her uncle Tufail Hussain, 50, police said. Tufail’s wife Jaitoon Begum has been admitted to Government Medical College Hospital, Jammu, with injuries. A mortar shell fell near the house in Jhanghar in which they were.
Tufail and Jaitoon had moved to Jhanghar from Mendhar in Poonch district after purchasing a plot of land only last year.
Afiya and her parents had come from Mendhar to stay with the couple some days ago.
Two other women and four Armymen were injured in the Pakistani shelling that started around 7.15 am, police said. The injured women were identified as Sonia and Rekha Devi, both of whom were evacuated to a hospital in Nowshera by police during a short break in the shelling in the afternoon.
Defence Ministry spokesperson Lt Colonel Manish Mehta said that “Indian troops were retaliating strongly and effectively”. Firing was ongoing until evening.
The stepped-up firing from across the LoC in Nowshera sector came nearly 48 hours after a 35-year-old woman was killed and her husband injured in Pakistani shelling in Laam on Wednesday night. The victims were inside their home when a shell landed nearby.
A day earlier, a BSF constable was injured in firing by Pakistani Rangers in Arnia sector of Samba district on the international border. As the BSF retaliated, the Rangers escalated to mortar shelling on BSF positions, to which the BSF responded effectively.
While the escalation in the situation along the LoC in Nowshera sector has sparked a migration of people living in the border areas, many were stranded, waiting for the shelling to stop. Nearly 20 people, including women and children, were evacuated from Jhanghar by the civil administration with the help of the police, and were brought to Nowshera via Laam.
Nowshera subdivisional magistrate Harbans Lal Sharma said teams comprising officials of the civil administration and police had been rushed to places like Baba Khori, Kalsiyan, Jhanghar, Makri and Taryath, but they were unable to proceed due to the continued shelling by Pakistan. The damage to property, if any, will be ascertained only once the shelling stops, he added.
Sharma confirmed that nearly 150 people, including women and children, have so far arrived at camps set up by the administration at safer places, while another 300-400 have moved to the homes of
Meanwhile, Rajouri deputy commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary has ordered the closure of all schools near the LoC in Rajouri district. He put the number of such schools at 87 — situated in 56 villages of Rajouri, Nowshera, Manjakote and Qilla Darhal tehsils. Three school buildings have been damaged in the shelling.