As renewed India-Pakistan cross-border firing rages on, locals living near LoC fear for their safety
Officials said that there are around 32,000 people who come in the range of mortar and small arms fire along the LoC in Kashmir's Uri
After a brief lull along the LoC on Sunday, firing resumed between Indian and Pakistani troops in Akhnoor on Monday
Defence spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Devinder Anand, said that the small arms and mortar fire started at 3 am, adding that the troops "retaliated effectively" to Pakistani firing
On 27 February, while Pakistani aircraft crossed into the Indian territory along the LoC in Poonch, army officials said, the ground troops of Pakistan assisted their air force by carrying out heavy mortar shelling along the border at around 20 places
As the shelling between Indian and Pakistani troops started along the border, 30-year-old, Syed Maqsood Ahmad, was worried about the safety of his family.
At a distance of nearly 10 miles from his house, which lies among a cluster of brick and mud houses on a hillside at Saidapora in Uri, snow-capped mountains separate parts of Kashmir. The village of Saidpora lies in the range of artillery fire along the Line of Control (LoC), while in the other areas, cross-border shelling has already triggered migration. As shells landed in the village of Kamalkote in the garrison town of Uri on March 1, civilian Riyaz Ahmad was injured outside his house, while three houses were also damaged. Firing was also witnessed in the areas of Madian and Kundi Barjala in Uri where six other houses were also damaged.
Officials said that there are around 32,000 people who come in the range of mortar and small arms fire along the LoC in Uri. "There are around 29 villages which come in the range of mortar firing. Although there was a lull along the border today, the mortar shells earlier landed in three villages of Madian , Kundi Barjala and Kamalkote. In the firing, one civilian was injured and is recovering at a hospital in Srinagar," said Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Uri, Riyaz Ahmad.
After a brief lull along the LoC yesterday, firing resumed between Indian and Pakistani troops in Akhnoor on Monday. The heavy mortar shelling from Pakistani side was retaliated to "effectively" by Indian troops, army officials said.
Maqsood said that he would have moved to a safer place, but was too poor to afford any rented house. "I have four children and I am too poor to move to a safer place," he said, "If the tense situation along the border persists, we may be on the receiving end."
In main town Uri, many families have migrated from Kamalkote, along with women and children, and are living with their relatives, while some have been staying at a government school. The situation was so tense that the government pressed into service ambulances to transport the families to Uri town. "We have designated two schools in Uri to shift the families. We provide bedding at the safe shelter and have also made heating arrangements. In the two schools at Uri, we can accommodate at least 4,000 people," said Riyaz.
He added that even as the border firing has stopped in Uri, the government was still running "a control room" that was manned by over 20 people where the "people's calls for evacuation are being attended to". Riyaz went on, "We have pressed into service nine ambulances to transport the families to the Uri town. We have asked the people to move to safer places, but there are many who didn’t want to leave behind their cattle and houses."
Following the killing of at least 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in a blast on 14 February at Awantipora, India and Pakistani troops resorted to the intense shelling along the border.
On 27 February, while Pakistani aircraft crossed into the Indian territory along the LoC in Poonch, army officials said, the ground troops of Pakistan assisted their air force by carrying out heavy mortar shelling along the border at around 20 places. Army officials, who didn't wish to be named, said that after the airstrikes the entire LoC remained active and over 100 incidents of shelling by Pakistani troops have been reported.
Defence spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Devinder Anand, said that the Pakistani troops resorted to firing along the border in Akhnoor for over three-and-a-half hours. He said that the small arms and mortar fire started at 3 am, adding that the troops "retaliated effectively" to Pakistani firing.
Amjad Ali, a resident of the border area of Dachi in Uri, said that people were "apprehensive" that they may bear the brunt during the intense border firing. "We don’t have the bunkers in which we can stay during the firing. Although the matter was brought to the notice of the government many times, it has not done anything," he said.
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