No peace in Ramzan: BSF jawan, 4 civilians killed in Pak firing in Jammu

Ahead of PM Modi’s visit to Jammu & Kashmir on Saturday, intermittent exchange of fire between the two sides continues along the border for the third consecutive day 

PTI Photo 
PTI Photo
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Ashutosh Sharma

A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi starts his daylong visit to Jammu and Kashmir, tensions have escalated on the International Border in Jammu region. At least five persons, including four civilians and a BSF jawan, were killed while 12 others were injured as Pakistan Rangers shelled villages and border out posts (BoPs) in RS Pura sector on Friday.

The heavy shelling killed four civilians including a couple besides leaving 12 others injured in RS Pura and the adjoining Arnia sectors along International Border. Contrary to the claims of the local administration that police was using bullet-proof vehicles to evacuate the injured to the hospital and was reaching out to the people in shelling-hit zones, the local residents rued that they had to ferry the injured to the hospitals in charpoys and private vehicles .

Here’s a video that shows an injured person being shifted in a charpoy by panic-stricken residents of Chandu Chak village in RS Pura sector.

Agitated over official apathy, a large number of residents blocked vehicular traffic on RS Pura Road by placing the bodies of Tarsem Lal and his wife Manjeet in the middle of highway. The residents of Chandu Chak were killed when a shell fired from across the border exploded in the courtyard of their home this morning.

The demonstrators shouted slogans against the government over its failure to protect their lives and limbs. They were also angry at the local administration for not making ambulances available for transporting the injured to the hospital.

Activist Manu Khajuria Singh wrote on Facebook: “A 70-year-long conflict and unprovoked firing by Pakistan and we still don’t have a solution or at the least an infrastructure to deal with this...better equipped Primary Health Care Centers, bullet proof critical care ambulances, alternative ways to uninterrupted education, counselling, reservations. 70 years and the people of Jammu are on the roads today, asking for only an ambulance. Ambulance....let it sink in ...Ambulance...and then talk, tweet, share, ask and raise it!”

The slain BSF jawan has been identified as 28-year-old constable Sitaram Upadhyaya of 192 Battalion. He was critically injured at Jabowal BoP and died en route to GMC Hospital in Jammu. Upadhyay hailed from Giridih in Jharkhand and joined the force in 2011. He is survived by a three-year-old son and an one-year-old daughter, officials said.

An assistant sub-inspector of BSF also suffered a splinter injury at Pittal BoP, the officer said, adding that he has been admitted to a hospital.

PTI Photo 
PTI Photo 
Border Security Force personnel carry the coffin of Sitaram Upadhyaya who was killed in firing by Pakistan Rangers along the International Border, at the BSF headquarters in Arnia sector of Jammu on Friday 

Yesterday, a BSF jawan was among two persons injured when Pakistan Rangers opened fire and lobbed mortar shells at over 15 border outposts (BOPs) and some civilian areas along the International Border in Samba and Kathua districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

On May 15, a 28-year-old BSF jawan was killed as Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire by opening fire on forward posts to help infiltrators cross the International Border in Samba sector. Troops have foiled four infiltration bids along the IB since May 12.

Blow To Peace Initiative

Expressing condolence to the grieving families, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that Pakistan will have to reciprocate and contribute to efforts for lasting peace. “Sad that while our country took the lead in starting peace initiatives with cessation of operations during Ramzan, Pakistan has shown no respect whatsoever for this holy month.”

“While a ray of hope had come with conditional Kashmir ceasefire , disturbing news about killing of five people in cross border shelling in Jammu has cast a shadow over this. Both India and Pakistan should immediately come on table to see that ceasefire of 2003 is implemented,” senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari wrote on Twitter.

Earlier, militant groups in Kashmir had rejected the Ramzan ceasefire announced by the Central government, dubbing it a “drama”.

PTI Photo 
PTI Photo 
Farooq Ali, injured in ceasefire violation at Jora Farm village near the international border, is being shifted to a hospital in Jammu on Friday

Red alert ahead of Modi's visit

This is the third day of shelling and firing by Pakistani troops along the IB in Jammu frontier ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the state on Saturday. Security forces in Jammu and Kashmir were put on high alert on Friday ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day visit to the state on Saturday.

All entry and exit points into Srinagar and Jammu have been sealed by police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) are allowing vehicles to enter the cities only after thorough checking and frisking of the occupants.

Four Killed Across The Border

Meanwhile, four civilians were killed and 10 injured in Indian cross-border firing on a border village across the border in Sialkot, Pakistan’s Geo TV reported. Quoting the Inter Services Public Relations, the Pakistan army's media wing, the report stated that a woman and three children were killed in Indian shelling and firing.

The report further read, “So far in 2018, as 219 innocent civilians, including 112 women and children, have either been killed or injured because of targeted Indian ceasefire violations.”

With agency inputs

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