Pakistani troops violated ceasefire at two places by targeting forward posts and villages along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, officials said.
In Akhnoor sector, ceasefire violation took place early morning, Defence Ministry spokesperson Lt Colonel Devender Anand said. The Indian Army retaliated and the firing stopped at 6.30 am, he added.
Around 5.30 pm again, Pakistani troops initiated unprovoked mortar shelling and small arms fire in Poonch sector. The Army was retaliating effectively, he said.
Two Armymen were injured in the Akhnoor sector, and rushed to a military hospital, sources said.
The bus service between Poonch and Rawalakot was suspended on Monday. Pointing out that there were only three passengers on the bus returning to PoK, sources said the bus could not leave Chakkan Da Bagh as the Pakistani Army did not open the gates on their side of the LoC.
However, life continued as normal in Akhnoor’s Khour subdivision, which has been witness to heavy shelling since the IAF airstrikes inside Pakistan on February 26. All shops and government offices were open and traffic plied normally at Palanwala town. Schools were, however, closed as the town is situated around 1,500 metres from the LoC.
Subdivisional Magistrate, Khour, Anil Thakur said the administration had not yet asked villagers living within 5 km of the LoC to move to safer places, but it has identified schools and ashrams to set up camps if the situation escalates. “I am in touch with Army authorities. When needed, people will be shifted to camps,” he said.
Palanwala Sarpanch Manjit Singh has asked the administration to make arrangements for basic amenities in case people have to shift to camps. In 1999, Pakistani mortar shells fell on Palanwala bazar, killing three people. One person had also died in Bardoh village, said Singh.
Bardoh, Jogwan and Kalah villages comprise a panchayat with nearly 7,000 people. Adjoining it is Battal panchayat, which comprises Seri Palayian, Dhakhar and Larvhera villages with a population of 5,000. Both panchayats are among nearly two dozen villages falling between 500-1,000 m of the LoC. Bardoh has been a known infiltration route for militants. In 2014, an underground tunnel emanating from Pakistan side was found in the area, while militants attacked a GREF camp there in January 2017, killing three people.
On Saturday, as shelling and small arms fire resumed from across Manawar Tawi, a group of children in Bardoh continued playing cricket. “Why get scared? We have grown up amid cross-border firing,” said Ajay Kumar (17). “Schools are closed. How long can one stay at home?”