Civilians living in areas bordering Pakistan have begun evacuating their homes as places along the international border — from Ramgarh to Kathua sectors — have come under heavy mortar shelling by Pakistani Rangers. Six members of a family were injured on Sunday night when a shell landed in their house.
The injured have been identified as Balak Ram, his wife Ratno Devi and son Om Parkash, his daughter-in-law Subash Devi and grandson Rahesh Kumar, besides Bachno Devi. Pointing out that a shell had landed on their house, sources said that they were evacuated to the Hiranagar hospital by police in a bullet proof bunker.
Ever since the shelling began from the Paksitan side on Friday evening, one civilian was killed and 11 others were injured so far. The shelling, which was initially confined to only Mangu Chak area in Samba sector, has now spread over to adjoining Ramagarh, Hiranagar and Kathua sectors affecting nearly 50 villages and over two dozen BSF border outposts.
The continued mortar shelling by Pakistan for the last three days has led to people migrating from various forward villages like Mawa, Bobbiyan and Patti, where a number of houses were damaged. The migrants have taken shelter at Santoshi Mata temple in Kunthal village and Government Primary School at Kali Bari, both in Hiranagar.
The Pakistani Rangers appear to be provoked by the repair of the barbed wire fence which had got damaged during recent rains and floods on Indian side of the border. Pointing out that they had initially targeted labourers repairing the barbed wire fence at Mangu Chak, sources said that though it was erected deep inside the Indian territory they were opposed to its repairs as it obstruct infiltration by terrorists.
The BSF was retaliating, sources said, adding that Pakistani shells were falling in areas hardly three kms away from Samba railway station. This is the first time in many years that Pakistani Rangers have been using such long range weapons, said Ajay Jamwal, a resident of Samba.
The Rangers were using 51 mm, 81 mm and 82 mm mortars, sources said, adding that BSF troops were also retaliating effectively with equal caliber weapons.
Following latest escalation in situation, despite holding of peace talks at the Director General level meeting between BSF and Rangers at New Delhi last month, the state government has already identified a number of places at safer places for stay of people who migrate from their villages in the wake of Pakistani shelling.