New Delhi/Jammu/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, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “everything will be fine soon”.
India was quick to retaliate at Pakistani firing, but the casualties on the other side were not known immediately.
India’s top military official said they were keen to resolve the ceasefire violations as Pakistan again raised the Kashmir issue at the UN.
Prime Minister Modi, who attended the ‘At Home’ organised by Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha to mark the Air Force Day, asked about ceasefire violations by Pakistan said: “Everything will be fine soon.”
Modi also interacted with army chief General Dalbir Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval ostensibly on the ceasefire violations by Pakistan.
The latest string of Pakistan ceasefire violations on the 700 km-Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border started Oct 3. The number of people killed in shelling and firing by Pakistan on civilian areas in Jammu region has now gone up to seven, while the number of the injured has shot up to 55.
Panic gripped the border villages in Jammu as shells landed with fierce intensity on homes, shattering windows and leaving the walls with gaping holes and cracks.
The bloodied and wounded were carried to hospital, while the locals scurried to safety and spent a sleepless night. Pakistani troopers fired through Tuesday night and did not stop as the day broke Wednesday.
A senior police officer said: “Two people have died and five are injured in Pakistan mortar shelling in Chilyari village in Samba district today (Wednesday). The injured have been shifted to Government Medical College (GMC) Hospital in Jammu city for treatment.”
The two who died Wednesday were a 70-year-old woman and her daughter-in-law, the officer said.
“BSF is also retaliating effectively to silence Pakistan guns in the area,” the officer added.
Meanwhile, sources said a high-level meeting was held in the union home ministry over ceasefire violations, which was attended by Home Secretary Anil Goswami and other senior officials.
They said the home secretary, later, briefed Doval about the situation.
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.
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,” a senior police officer told IANS in Jammu.
“Pakistan has again started firing at BSF positions and civilian areas in Hira Nagar sector of the border in Kathua district Wednesday morning,” he said.
The Indian Air Force chief, who is also the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, said 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”.
“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,” Air Chief Marshal Saha said after the 82nd Air Force Day celebrations at the Hindon Air Force Station on the outskirts of Delhi.
Pakistan dragged the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) into the current situation along the Line of Control.
“UNMOGIP must be enabled to play its role in monitoring the ceasefire,” Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN 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.
Khan’s mention of the UNMOGIP comes after India signalled that it considers the group has outlived its utility.