Terror seems to have returned to the India-Pakistan border areas in Jammu and Kashmir, where heavy mortar shelling by Pakistan Rangers since Friday night has triggered migration from the affected border villages.
“We are leaving our homes and hearths shelled by Pakistan. We are going to shelter camps. There is no end to the firing during past 12 hours,” Namrita Devi of Beingallar area in Samba district said.
A woman was on Saturday killed and eight other civilians were injured as Pakistani troops targeted villages and 13 border outposts with heavy mortar shelling in Kathua and Samba districts in the state.
The fresh ceasefire violations have triggered migration from border villages and over 1000 people have been evacuated from hamlets in Kathua and Samba districts, officials said.
The latest round of firing by Pakistan which started on New Year eve has left two persons dead, including a Border Security Force (BSF) jawan, and nine injured while five Pakistani Rangers have been killed in retaliatory firing by India. It comes barely two months after the last major escalation that left 13 people dead and displaced 32,000 border residents.
“We have become sitting ducks on the border for Pakistan guns. We are constantly living under fear and terror. When we go to fields or walk on roads we do not know when we will fall to their bullets,” says Arvind Kumara, a shopkeeper from Mangu Chack area here.
The distraught people in long serpentine lines were seen leaving from the border hamlets in bullock carts, trucks, tempos and tractor trolleys.
“Over four villages have been evacuated apart from 300 border people in Kathua district,” Shahid Iqbal Choduhary, deputy commissioner of Kathua said. “Four people have suffered injuries. We are awaiting shelling to stop so that we can evacuate people from 57 border hamlets, if required,” he said.
The border dwellers continue to live under constant fear that frequent ceasefire violations would terminate the decade old truce agreement, putting their lives in peril. “We want ceasefire initiated by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003 to stay, so that we can live in peace.
In the 2013 and 2014, there has been a massive spike in ceasefire violations that have made our life hell,” Kartar Singh, a resident of Beingallar said.
Mubarak Singh, deputy commissioner of Samba, said firing and shelling is going on in the border area and once it stops, the administration will evacuate the people living along the border.
However, people have migrated from the villages and are being put in shelter camps, he said. The newly elected Bharatiya Janata Party member from Vijaypur Assembly segment, Chander Prakash Ganga, said BSF was retaliating with full vigour to the Pakistan firing.
“Pakistan is always up to mischief on the borders. But we have a strong government at the Centre which will not take it lying down,” Ganga said adding the border people will be evacuated and put in camps safely.