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JammuBorder residents flee amidst Pakistan firing, Weddings in villages disrupted

Border residents flee amidst Pakistan firing, Weddings in villages disrupted


Tawi, Oct 27:
The BSF on Friday said the unprovoked firing by Pakistan Rangers along the Border in Jammu targeting Indian posts and civilian areas continued for close to seven hours.
The intermittent exchange of fire between Pakistani Rangers and BSF personnel along the International Border in Arnia and RS Pura sectors of Jammu district ended early Friday.
Scores of families that had fled the border hamlets overnight after the unprovoked firing by Pakistani Rangers have now started returning to their homes.
In an official statement, the Border Security Force (BSF) said the Pakistan Rangers fired mortars and used heavy machine guns, leading to two non-fatal casualties.
BSF Constable Basva Raj suffered minor splinter injuries in both hands due to shelling. A local, Rajni Devi of Arnia, suffered minor injuries, it said.
The force said the Pakistani firing continued for close to seven hours, starting around 8 pm on Thursday and extending up to 2:45 am on Friday.
“BSF continues to monitor the developments closely while assessing the situation and remains alert to respond as necessary to ensure the safety and security of the border and its residents,” the force said.
It said following the start of unprovoked firing, BSF troops retaliated and subsequently Pak Rangers extended their firing to target its border posts adjacent to Arnia prompting retaliation from its forward posts in these areas. At approximately 9:15 pm on Thursday, Pakistan Rangers started mortar firing targeting border outposts and civilian areas, the BSF said, adding some of the shells landed in Arnia town, resulting in minor injuries to a civilian.
“Around 10:40 pm on Thursday, Pakistan Rangers used heavy machine gun fire and targeted our posts. Around 1 am the Rangers again fired and targeted BSF posts, leading to an exchange of fire,” the statement said.
Firing continued till 2:45 am, it said.
The BSF said the condition of the injured jawan was stable while material damage was being ascertained. Unprovoked firing by Pakistan Rangers has marred dozens of weddings in villages along the international border in Jammu with many forced to make last-minute changes to some rituals as well.
In the case of Ishant Saini and Sangeeta's wedding, guests left the feast amid shelling by Pakistan in the R S Pura sector.
The cross-border shelling and firing by Pakistan Rangers, the first major ceasefire violation since 2021, started around 8 pm on Thursday in the Arnia area and lasted for 7 hours.
It revived memories of frequent and intense cross-border firing prior to the renewed ceasefire between and Pakistan on February 25, 2021. As per the Border Security Force (BSF), the firing continued till 3 am on Friday and was ‘befittingly responded'.
A BSF jawan and a woman were injured, while several houses were damaged by the shelling, officials said.
Ishant Saini's brother, Deepak said, “We are feeling sorry for the guests who left in panic without enjoying the feast after being informed about Pakistani shelling in our village.” He said that they had to make last-minute changes to some of the marriage rituals as well.
“As per our tradition, the ‘phere' were supposed to be performed at the bride's house. But since it is located near the zero line, we decided to perform this important ritual at this venue,” Deepak told at the marriage hall.
“This is the time for harvesting paddy. But the Pakistani firing forced the labourers to flee. It is after a gap of four to five years that our village came under (mortar) shelling from Pakistan,” said Deepak Choudhary, a local of Nai Basti village.
He said at least half a dozen shells landed in the village, leaving her relative, Rajni Bala, injured. She is now undergoing treatment at the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu.
On October 17, two BSF personnel were injured when Pakistani Rangers opened fire on their post in Arnia but the exchange of fire between the two sides was brief and restricted to small-arms firing only. The BSF subsequently lodged a strong protest with Pakistan in the larger interest of peace along the borders.
The house of Pawan Kumar of Buley Chek village near the zero line also suffered damage due to the explosion of a mortar shell.
“We had forgotten about the cross-border shelling. Now we are in panic as the underground bunkers are not in proper condition,” he said.
Vijay Kumar, a soldier who had come to his village on leave said, “We had to leave our village as we cannot take shelter in underground bunkers which have not been used for a long time. How long will we tolerate shelling from Pakistan?” He said since this is the season of weddings, people initially took the sound of firing as the bursting of firecrackers but as the intensity grew, they fled for safety.
Highlighting the need for upkeep of the underground bunkers, Vijay Kumar said these have turned into dens of snakes and poisonous insects.
These shelters must be cleaned immediately and must have an electricity supply, he said.
Rupali Devi, who along with her husband also left their village, said all the people residing in the border areas do not have access to underground bunkers.
“We have not thought of a situation where we have to leave our homes again. While I am outside the village, many of my family members are there. Thankfully they are safe,” another local Sohan said.

The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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