J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti calls for de-escalation as cross-border firing continues

Sounds of gun shots and mortar shells being fired heard throughout Tuesday night and in the wee hours of Wednesday across the Working Boundary kept many villagers awake, sending some of them into underground bunkers in Jammu.

An assistant sub-inspector of the Border Security Forces (BSF) was injured on Wednesday morning after the BSF claimed to have destroyed at least six Pakistani posts in the retaliation firing. The exchange of fire continues between the BSF and Pakistani rangers across Ranbir Singh Pura.

At least, 11 civilians were injured on Tuesday, in Suchetgarh sector of RS Pura. A mortar shell fired by Pakistani rangers landed inside the lawn of a house and left six members of a family injured.

“We were sitting in the lawn when a shell fired by Pakistani rangers landed. Six, including four girls, suffered splinter injuries,” said Manju Choudhary, a resident of Suchetgarh, who was injured in the shelling on Tuesday. She is undergoing treatment in the Government Medical College Jammu.

 J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti calls for de-escalation as cross-border firing continues

Representational image. PTI

The heavy shelling on the border outposts (BOPs) and civilian areas has left a BSF soldier and a six-year-old boy dead, and nine others injured on Sunday. By Tuesday evening, more than 25 structures were damaged by shells as Pakistan rangers pounded more than 15 villages from RS Pura to Akhnoor sectors using heavy calibre weapons, including 82 mm mortars and 120 mm mortars.

Residents said around 70 percent of people have migrated from RS Pura and Suchetgarh area to safer places.

“As the firing continues, villagers are moving to safer areas. More than 100 cattle were killed in our village,” said Soma Devi who is also undergoing treatment. Devi was one among the six people injured in Suchetgarh, the youngest among them was 10-year-old Sanjana.

In another village, a shell splinter pierced through a woman's body while she was running towards a bunker in Chandu Chak in RS Pura.

A BSF officer said that Pakistani rangers targetted their posts and civilian areas from 11 am to 12 noon in RS Pura. “Three outposts in RS Pura were under attack from the Pakistani rangers. The BSF also retaliated and caused them extensive damage,” said the BSF officer. He said five to six Pakistan Army posts were severely hit and damaged from calibrated and effective retaliation from the BSF.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday said that the fresh spate of cross-border shelling along the Working Boundary has led to loss of human lives and called for immediate de-escalation.

“Ways and means will have to explored immediately to bring an end to the suffering of the people because of continuous cross-border shelling and escalation of violence in the state and region,” said Mufti while presiding over a meeting of the Unified Headquarters (UHQ) in Srinagar.

The chief minister said the vicious cycle of death and destruction confronting the region must end soon and serious efforts should be made at the political and civil society level to revive the peace and reconciliation process for the larger good of the people. Making a fervent appeal for maintaining peace on the borders, Mufti said the cross-border shelling has led to a humanitarian crisis with people fleeing their homes and scurrying for safety.

“This disquieting scenario has to end so that people can live peacefully in their homes,” she said and added that people in Jammu and Kashmir have always suffered the most in such hostile situations.

Reports said the army and the administration have advised people along the LoC and International Border not to move out of their houses.

Updated Date: Oct 26, 2016 12:20:01 IST