STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: Pakistani troops on Thursday resorted to shelling on civilian areas near the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, killing a woman and injuring her husband and provoking retaliation by the Indian army in which two Pakistani soldiers were injured.
In the wake of the Pakistani action in Nowshera tehsil of Rajouri district, the schools in the area were closed down and an evacuation plan was activated under which over 1200 people from various border hamlets are being shifted to safer places.
“Pakistani Army fired indiscriminately from small arms and automatic weapons from 2240 hours last night on Indian Army posts along the LoC in Nowshera belt of Rajouri district, a defence spokesman said here on Thursday.
The Pakistani Army initiated indiscriminate firing, using small arms, automatic rifles, 82 mm and 120 mm mortars, he said.
A shell hit a village in Laam belt of Nowshera sector this morning, killing 35-year-old Akhtar Bi and injuring her 40-year-old husband Mohmmad Hanief, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rajouri, Yugal Manhas said.
Hanief said the couple was sleeping outside their house and “when the shelling and firing started, we went inside the house. After some time, a shell hit our house and both of us were injured.”
His wife died on the way to the hospital, he said.
“We have become the sitting ducks for the target practice of Pakistan troops. They have targeted civilian population.
(Indian) Army should give a befitting reply,” Hanief said.
The Indian Army retaliated effectively, injuring two Pakistani jawans, defence sources said.
After the Pakistani shelling, Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Nowshera tehsil issued an order, directing closure of all schools in the area as a precautionary measure.
“All schools close to the LoC were shut in Nowshera tehsil of Rajouri district as a precautionary measure following the death of a woman and injuries to her husband in shelling by the Pakistan Army,” a senior police officer said.
An evacuation plan has been put in place in view of the intermittent shelling and firing along LoC, the officer said.
The government has set up camps in safer places in Nowshera, he said, adding over 1200 people from Sher Makari, Namakdali and Khamba border hamlets are being shifted.
The latest ceasefire violation comes 10 days after the beheading of two Indian soldiers by Pakistan’s Border Action Team, which had crossed the LoC and sneaked 250 metres inside the Indian territory in Poonch under the cover of heavy mortar fire by their colleagues.
According to the Home Ministry, Pakistan breached the truce alon the LoC 449 times in 2016 and 405 times in 2015. 23 security personnel were killed in the two-year period.
Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti expressed grief over the death of woman and injuries to her husband in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district today due to cross LoC firing. She directed the Rajouri District administration to provide all assistance and help to the injured in the incident.
Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Dr Mandeep Bhandari, along with Deputy Commissioner Rajouri Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, visited various areas affected by shelling along the LOC in Nowshera sector.
The Div Com sanctioned immediate relief amount of Rs 1.10 Lakh as assistance to next-of-kin of Akhter Bi who died in cross-LoC firing in village Pukherni on Wednesday night.
On the occasion, he reviewed the relief measures and also inspected the relief camp established by district administration under supervision of SDM Nowshera.
He convened a meeting of district officers and sub-divisional officers to take stock of rescue, evacuation and relief measures as well as preparedness for immediate action in wake of any further skirmishes along the LOC which may necessitate evacuation of civilians from border villages. He also convened a meeting of representatives and affected families from various villages including Pukherni, Qila Darhal, Sarya, Khamba and Jhangar. Issues related to compensation, loss assessment, cultivation of crops, coordination with Army, construction of bunkers, provision of power supply and availability of ambulances were discussed during the meeting.
The Divisional Commissioner appreciated the efforts put in by district administration for timely rescue and evacuation as well as establishment of relief camps.
He asked the district administration for formulating relief cases for compensation after thorough assessment of loss of life, injuries, loss of livestock, houses and other structures. He asked for availability of all basic amenities at relief camps.
In response to public demands he asked the administration for a roadmap for construction of bunkers, community sanitary complexes, power infrastructure for uncovered villages and other issues.
Earlier, Deputy Commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary visited shelling affected villages of Pukherni, Jhangar, Lam and Qila Darhal to take stock of damages, coordinate loss assessment for compensation, planning of evacuation and required measures.
The DC held public meeting at Pukherni and sensitized the public for various measures in view of ceasefire violation underlining safety of human lives and property. The general public was also informed about camps being established and measures for compensation.
Two relief camps have been established in Nowshera where 50 persons comprising around 15 families have been settled. District administration has also earmarked additional camps and deputed teams of officers for establishment of camps which may be required in case of further ceasefire violation. As many as 27 families have been affected which include partially and severely damaged houses, besides a school has been damaged due to shelling. More than 40 farm animals are reported killed in firing for which damage assessment report is being concluded.
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