1000 people evacuated; Pak shelling continues along LoC

Displaced people demand “community bunkers” in villages
Report by: 
Agencies
Jammu
14 May 2017

Pakistani troops heavily shelled areas along the LoC in Rajouri district for the second consecutive day today, causing heavy damage to buildings and forcing evacuation of 1000 border dwellers. The Indian Army effectively retaliated. Pakistan Army had yesterday pounded civilian areas and forward posts along the LoC in Nowshera area with mortars, killing two civilians and injuring three.  "Pakistani Army has resorted to indiscriminate firing of small arms, 82 mm and 120 mm mortars from 0645 hours along the Line of Control in Rajouri sector", a Defence Spokesman said. "The Indian Army posts are retaliating strongly and effectively. The firing is presently on", he said. Deputy Commissioner, Rajouri, Shahid Iqbal Choudgary said fresh ceasefire violation has been reported in 'chitibakri' area of Chingus in Rajouri today. "Heavy shelling started in Manjakote area of Rajouri at O620 hours. More than seven villages have been affected", the DC said. Choudhary said there was massive damage to buildings.  He said the number of migrants at relief camps swelled to 978 overnight. Till now 259 families have been evacuated from three villages, he added. 51 schools in Nowshera sector have been closed for an indefinite period while 36 in Manjakote and Doongi zones have been closed for three days. 4,600 students study in 87 schools, he added. After the Pakistani shelling, 1000 people were evacuated from various areas along the LoC in Rajouri district to safer places. "Risking their lives officials and police evacuated 996 people from various shelling hit villages and shifted them to various camps established by district administration where facilities of ration, cooking, drinking water, sanitation, first aid and proper accommodation have been provided," Choudhary said. So far, three camps have been made operational and 28 others notified in wake of expected migration from affected villages, Choudhary said. "Six ambulances have been pressed into action for shifting of injured and treatment. One mobile medical unit was stationed at Nowshera and another deputed to forward areas," he added. Around 120 officers from various departments have been deployed to organise facilities at relief camp. The district administration has provided immediate relief and financial assistance to the next of kin of the deceased and to the injured, he said. A control room has been established in the office of SDM Nowshera for coordination. The government had last month said that Pakistani security forces had violated the ceasefire 268 times in the last one year. The ceasefire between India and Pakistan came into force in November 2003. Forced to flee their homes, cattle and ready to harvest crops due to frequent shelling by Pakistan, the residents along the Line of Control are batting for construction of 'community bunkers' in their villages. For the thousands living in these vulnerable zones, fear creeps in when the sun sets as their hamlets come under intense shelling by the neighbour's army. Mortar marks on walls of houses and shops in the area are a testimony to the brute firing by Pakistani army targeting the civilian population. The Pakistan army had yesterday pounded civilian areas and forward posts along the LoC in Nowshera area with mortars, killing two civilians and injuring three others.  The border dwellers are now batting for construction of community bunkers to safeguard themselves from the heavy cross-border shelling, which have seen a spike since 2002. Madan Lal (62) said he along with his five family members took shelter in an underground bunker set up by him near his house for 20 hours, before being ferried in a bullet-proof vehicle by police and housed in a camp in Nowshera. "It was the worst shelling along LoC in Nowshera since 2002. Hundreds of mortar shells were fired by Pakistan, especially targeting civilian areas and hamlets. It was raining shells," he said. Earlier, Two militants were killed today by the security forces in an encounter in north Kashmir's Kupwara district, an Army official said. The security forces had launched a cordon and search operation in Bhagatpura in Handwara area of the district based on a specific intelligence input about the presence of militants there, he said. (PTI)