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Tension escalates on India-Pakistan border: 8000 people shift to safer locations

Monday, 25 August 2014 - 6:25am IST | Place: Srinagar | Agency: dna

Tension has escalated on the International Border with no let up in the ceasefire violations from Pakistani Rangers. The escalation has prompted the Jammu and Kashmir government to evacuate 8,000 residents from at least 21 villages located in the vulnerable zones on the borderline as a precautionary measure.

What happened?
Pakistani Rangers resorted to unprovoked firing using heavy machine guns and mortar shells in Arnia and RS Pora sector at 10 pm on Saturday. Within a very short span, firing spread to other Border Security Force (BSF) posts in nearby areas also. A BSF spokesman said as many as 25 posts were affected by the unprovoked firing from Pakistan side. From July 16 till date, Pakistan has violated ceasefire 30 times on the IB in Jammu division

Did we retaliate to the Pakistani fire?
Inspector General of BSF, Jammu frontier Rakesh Sharma told dna that they replied in the same coin to Pakistani firing. "As per Pakistan media reports they have suffered three casualties — two male one female — and 11 others are injured. Our information is that two Lashkar-e-Toiba cadre were also killed somewhere very close to their (Pakistani) Border outposts," he said

Was there any casualty on Indian side?
According to IG BSF there was no injury to any BSF troops. However, a woman died of heart attack after shells exploded. But sub divisional police officer of RS Pora, Devinder Singh said the woman was ill for quite some time and they are investigating the matter (whether she died of heart attack due to shelling). So far the death toll stands at two. A father son duo was killed and four others injured in the shelling in Jeorafarm village on Friday night. Three BSF jawans have suffered injuries in the shelling since July 16. Besides, three to four cattle died in the renewed shelling on Saturday night.

What has been the fallout of the shelling?
Fear has gripped the villagers living on the borderline. Alarmed by the intensity of the shelling the J&K government has decided to shift 8,000 residents of 21 villagers living along the IB in RS and Arnia sectors. "Our plan is to shift 21 villages as precautionary measures. So far 6,000 people have been shifted and by the end of the evacuation the total number would be 8,000. Except three to four villages we have shifted almost all the villagers. The people have been put up in schools, Bana Singh stadia and Satasang Bhawan," said Devender Singh, SDPO RS Pora.

Has there been any reaction from the Jammu and Kashmir government?
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah finally broke his silence on Sunday saying the ceasefire violations are increasing in intensity. "They are no longer confined only to BSF posts. By design now, civilian areas are being targeted, civilians are being killed and injured," he said. "Given the breakdown in communication between India and Pakistan, I don't know how the Narendra Modi government plans to resolve this issue but they have an obligation to resolve it because they promised the people of this country 'acche din' (good days)," he added.

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