Jammu/New Delhi/United Nations/Mumbai, Oct 8 :
Pakistan Rangers continued to fire across the international border with India through the night and well into Wednesday, killing at least two more people and injuring two dozen. India was quick to retaliate, but the casualties on the Pakistani side was not immediately known.
More than 20,000 residents of 30 villages along the international border in Jammu region have been shifted to safer locations, Indian officials said. India’s top military official said they were keen to resolve the ceasefire violations as Pakistan again raised the Kashmir issue at the UN.
The latest string of Pakistan ceasefire violations on the 700 km-LoC and the international border started Oct 3. The number of people killed in Pakistan shelling on civilian areas in Jammu region has now gone up to seven, while the number of injured has shot up to 55.
Panic gripped the border villages here as shells landed with fierce intensity on homes, shattering windows and leaving the walls with gaping holes and pock-marked. The bloodied and wounded were carried to hospital, while the locals scurried to safety and spent a sleepless night.
Pakistani troopers fired through the night and did not stop as the day broke Wednesday.
A senior police officer: “Two people have died and five are injured in Pakistan mortar shelling in Chilyari village in Samba district today. The injured have been shifted to government medical college (GMC) hospital in Jammu city for treatment.”
“BSF is also retaliating effectively to silence Pakistan guns in the area,” the officer said.
As many as 20 people, including 15 civilians, were injured in overnight Pakistani firing at the border.
“Four army soldiers were injured in Pakistan firing on the LoC in Poonch district, one BSF trooper and 15 civilians were injured in firing by Pakistan Rangers on the international border in Jammu district during the night.
“Pakistan has again started firing at BSF positions and civilian areas in Hira Nagar sector of the border in Kathua district Wednesday morning,” a senior police officer told IANS in Jammu.
In retaliation to Pakistan targeting civilian habitations in Jammu and Kashmir, the union home ministry Wednesday put on hold a scheduled flag meeting between Pakistan and Indian paramilitary forces to discuss the recent hostilities.
Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who is also the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Wednesday said India wants to resolve the issue of ceasefire violations by Pakistan as soon as possible.
“It is a serious issue, it should not have happened…The government is taking it seriously…We want peace, tranquility, and good relations with neighbours,” he said after the 82nd Air Force Day celebrations at the Hindon Air Force Station on the outskirts of Delhi.
India’s top military official said that the government “has taken diplomatic steps and is making all efforts to bring it (firing) to an end. We are all concerned and want an early solution to it. The security forces are working towards it”.
Raising the Kashmir issue yet again at the UN, Pakistan dragged the UN Military Observer Group (UNMOGIP) into the current situation along the Line of Control where cross-border shelling has flared up.
“UNMOGIP must be enabled to play its role in monitoring the ceasefire,” UN Ambassador Masood Khan told the General Assembly Tuesday.
He said: “…We call upon the Indian government to immediately cease fire and help us preserve tranquility.”
The current round to cross-border firings resumed after an almost month-long lull. It has been described by Indian officials as the worst cease-fire violations since 2003.
Made up of military personnel from 10 countries, the UNMOGIP monitors the ceasefire along the Line of Control under a UN Security Council mandate.
Khan’s mention of the UNMOGIP comes after India signaled that it considers the group has outlived its utility. This is in line with India’s contention that the Kashmir issue can only be resolved between New Delhi and Islamabad because the 1972 Simla Agreement called for finding a bilateral solution to the dispute.
The cease-fire violations found a resonance in poll-bound Maharashtra.
“Modi is needed in New Delhi, but the BJP has stopped him in Maharashtra. This is playing with national security,” said an edit in the party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ Wednesday.
It said Modi “is currently busy with election campaign in Maharashtra” and he is moving in different villages for votes.
“Maharashtra politics can come later. The country’s security is important. Modiji, please stop tolerating the indiscretions of Pakistan,” Sena urged.
Modi has so far not said anything on the latest border upsurge but is believed to be in regular touch with Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and military commanders in Delhi.