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J&K : 5 civilians, three armed force personnel killed in cross border firing

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(G.N.S) Dt. 20

Srinagar

Eight people including, five civilians and three armed forces personnel, were killed and 35 others injured in border districts of Jammu as troops of India and Pakistan exchange fire between troops of India and Pakistan continued for four days now.

Fresh firing was reported from R S Pora and Arnia sectors in Jammu on Saturday where officials confirmed that two civilians were killed. Three BSF personnel were also injured in the same area. Firing also continued in Ramgarh and Gharwal in Samba and Rajbagh in Kathua districts. On Friday evening exchange of fire was reported from Mendhar and Sunderbani sectors along the Line of Control, where an army man was killed.

Heavy exchange of fire has forced migration of more than 9,000 people who have moved from their villages near International Border to safer areas, while as around 1,000 people have been lodged in the government camps set up in the main towns of RS Pora, Kathua and Samba.

The issue of killings and continued firing was raised during the ongoing J&K assembly session in winter capital Jammu, as the opposition staged a walkout from the house on Saturday morning. They questioned BJP’s inability to stop the killing of civilians and armed forces on the border and failure of NDA’s Pakistan policy. The opposition legislators also raised anti-BJP and anti-RSS slogans accusing them of ‘cowardice.’

“Why has 56 inch chest reduced to six inches? Where have the tall claims of beheading ten enemies against one vanished? Go and fight on border, what are you doing here?” opposition members of National Conference and Congress shouted in the assembly. The BSF and Pakistan Rangers are reported to have scheduled a flag meeting on January 22 to deescalate tensions.

About the killings on Friday, Jammu and Kashmir police informed that the 52-year-old Bachno Devi was killed in Sai Khurd village while as 20-year-old Sahil was killed in Suchetgarh area. Injuries were also reported from different villages along the Border from Kanachak in Jammu to Hiranagar in Kathua district.

The BSF head constable Jagpal Singh was killed while as two BSF personnel were injured in Mallu Chak and Nanga posts in Ramgarh. Indian Army’s Lance Naik Sam Abraham, 34, from Kerala was killed in Sunderbani. Pakistani troops, local officials claim targeted around 40 BSF posts with 52 mm and 82 mm mortal shells.

The exchange of fire intensified on International Border and LoC for past few days and the authorities also ordered evacuation of several hundred people and closure of schools in the radius of 5kms in the affected areas.

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed grief and anguish over killings appealing both the countries for cessation of hostilities. “Incidents of shelling are a proof that the people of the state are the worst victims of acrimony between the two neighbouring countries,” said Mehbooba.

Former J&K chief minister and National Conference leader, Omar Abdullah urged National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to talk to his Pakistani counterpart to stop exchange of fire on the border.

“Violence is not the solution. Two countries need to talk to each other. Our NSA had secret talks with his Pakistani counterpart in Bangkok. If we can’t maintain ceasefire on border what are these talks about,” Abdullah told reporters in Jammu on Friday.

Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq during his Friday sermon in Srinagar also expressed concern over killing of civilians and soldiers on border pressing for immediate resolution of Kashmir issue.

“Civilians and soldiers are becoming cannon fodder of this hate as a consequence of the lingering Kashmir dispute, which is sad and painful. This senselessness and bloodshed is given the name of nationalism and defense of national honor. The two nuclear-armed neighbours should give up confrontation and come to the table to resolve the Kashmir dispute once and for all to put a permanent end to this madness and suffering,” said Mirwaiz.

Earlier on Thursday, a BSF head constable, identified as A Suresh of 78 battalion of BSF who hailed from Tamil Nadu, was killed. A minor girl identified as Sabity, aged between 13 to 14 years, a resident of Kathua, was also killed. She was visiting her uncle in Pindi Charkan village of Arnia, where she was hit during the firing.

Director General BSF K K Sharma told reporters that the situation on the border is ‘tense and the ceasefire violations’ were being effectively retaliated.

“There could have been a possibility of infiltration attempt made in the area as there is a stream nearby. However, our troops made sure nothing of that sort happens,” Sharma told reporters on Thursday.

India and Pakistan signed a ceasefire agreement in November 2003, which have been violated several times, especially when the political relationship between the two nuclear neighbors deteriorates.

According to official data of government of India, from zero CFVs in 2004 Pakistan was involved in 583 violations in 2014, 405 CFVs in 2015 and 449 in 2016. And the number has increased to 881 CFVs till November 2017. From 2014 to November 2017, 55 civilians and 44 BSF and Army personnel were killed due to CFVs on IB and LoC.

The violation of ceasefire, union minister of state for Home Hansraj Ahir, while talking to reporters, in Maharashtra said, has become ‘Pakistan’s nature because of their twisted mindset.’ “We should not fire the frist bullet. But if one bullet is fired from their side we should respond with ten,” he told reporters.

On the proposal of the J&K government the GoI also sanctioned Rs 415 crore for construction of 1431 community bunkers with the capacity of 40 persons each and 13029 bunkers, with the capital of eight persons each to avoid any human loss during the exchange fire between the two countries.

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