Jammu, May 24: There was a lull in firing along the International Border on Thursday after nine days of intense shelling by Pakistani troops that left 11 people dead and 60 others injured.
The shelling and firing stopped on Wednesday afternoon along the IB.
“There was no firing and shelling from the Pakistan side today. There is a lull”, a senior BSF officer told PTI here.
However, there was overnight firing and shelling by the Pakistan Army in Lam and Nowshera sectors of Rajouri district, in which one civilian suffered injury, a district officer said.
Five civilians including a 10-year-old boy were killed and 14 others were injured as Pakistani troops rained mortars and opened heavy fire on Indian villages and posts along the International Border (IB) and LoC in Jammu, Kathua, Samba and Rajouri districts of Jammu region yesterday.
Shelled by Pakistan troops for past nine days, the bustling Arnia border town and nearly 120 border hamlets along the Indo-Pak border now wear an empty look, with over one lakh villagers abandoning their homes to escape heavy shelling of mortar bombs.
“Over one lakh people have migrated from their hamlets and border towns in the wake of Pakistan shelling and take shelter with their kins and some of them have come to safe shelters se tup by the government”, a senior officer of state government said.
Several camps have been setup in Kathua, Samba and Jammu district to house border migrants and provide them food, he said adding that several community kitchens are being run to provide foods to them.
Located five kilometers from the International Border (IB), Arnia town, with a population of over 18,500, resembles a ghost town with only a few people and some cops left each in its adjoining hamlets to take care of animals and guard homes against thefts.
The life of border dwellers along International Border (IB) has been silenced as farming, schooling, cattle rearing and everything else on which border dwellers survive have come to a halt due to the shelling episodes.
Pakistan Rangers started shelling areas along the IB on May 15 and till now 11 people including 9 civilians and 2 jawans have been killed and over 60 people, including over 48 civilians, injured.
Over 200 educational institutes continue to remain closed for the 5th consecutive day along the IB in Jammu, Samba, and Kathua districts by authorities in the wake of tension along the Indo-Pak border due to shelling.
Over 800 such incidents have been reported this year, which have left a total of 44 people, including 18 security personnel, dead and scores injured.
BJP State president Ravinder Raina and his party MP Jugal Kishore Sharma visited the hospital and took stock of the condition and the facilities being provided to the border firing victims.
Jammu and Kashmir government has directed the local civil and police officers to prepare a comprehensive contingency plan to deal with any eventuality due to unabated cross border firing.
Minister for Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Javed Mustafa Mir and Minister for Public Health Engineering Sham Choudhary passed the directive during a visit yesterday to shelling-hit border villages of R S Pura here and Samba district, an official spokesman said.
They asked them not to leave the station without informing the higher ups, the spokesman said.
The ministers, who met affected families including the relatives of those killed in the shelling, also asked the health and veterinary authorities to set up mobile units to provide prompt patient care to border residents and livestock, the spokesman said.
Asserting that a war-like situation was prevailing along the International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, the state unit of Congress today called for a “befitting response” to Pakistan to ensure safety of border residents.
“A war-like situation prevails along the IB and LoC due to intense shelling by Pakistan during the past couple of days. The state and Centre governments have utterly failed to deal with the grim situation especially to ensure adequate safety, security, required relief measures for the affected population,” Vice-president of Pradesh Congress Committee and former minister Raman Bhalla said.