Guns Do The Talking On LOC

Pak Troops Shell LoC Hamlets With 120 MM Mortar Bombs, India Summons Envoy

POONCH: A brief 12-hour lull was broken Monday evening as Indian and Pakistani soldiers resumed firing along the dividing Line of Control in various sectors in Southern Kashmir, forcing civilians who were still holding out in their homes, scurry for cover.  

Official sources said that heavy shelling of mortars and small arms fire broke out in Mendhar and Balakote sectors of Poonch at around 6:30 PM after a day long lull. 

The Indian army, they said, also retaliated to attack by the Pakistan. However there were no reports of casualties in the fresh skirmishes on either side, they added. The cross-LOC firing and shelling began on August 8.

A Defence Ministry spokesman  Col Manish Mehta said that “Pakistan troops resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violations in Saujiyan and Mandi sectors of Poonch district and in Rajouri sector where they shelled forward posts and civilian areas with 120 mm and 82 mm mortar bombs and heavy machine guns along LoC from 2200 hours last night to 0100 hours.” The firing, he said resumed Monday evening. Army gave effective reply resulting in exchanges, he said.

Educational institutions in Balakote sector, one of the worst affected areas of frontier district, remained closed as a precautionary measure Monday as well.  

People have been trapped in their homes because of intense exchange of fire between the two sides, residents reached on phone said.

Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Mendhar, Sher Singh said people in the border areas have been asked to stay indoors.

“Heavy shelling right from Mankote up to Balakote sector resumed this morning and the shells fell in interior areas of Mendhar. People are requested to stay indoors and avoid travelling on BG-Balakote road even from Dharana side”, he said.

On Sunday, a woman identified as 35-year-old Nussarat Begum was killed after Pakistan army allegedly pounded civilian areas including Behrote village in Balakote sector. With her death, the death toll in the skirmishes has climbed to six on Indian side of Kashmir. Pakistan has also claimed casualties to the civilian population near the LoC in part of Kashmir under its control.  

Five civilians were killed and at least 20 others injured as Pakistan Rangers allegedly fired at several Indian posts and civilian areas along the LoC in Poonch and Manjkote sector of Rajouri district. 

Pakistan media reported on Sunday that one person was killed and 4 others were injured in alleged mortar shelling by the Indian army.

Quoting ISPR, Pakistan’s Geo TV reported that the incident of cross border violation took place in Nakyal sector of Kotli. The slain civilian, a woman, was identified as Muneera Akhter. 

Officials said there have been repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the over 110 kms long de-facto border in Poonch, Sujiyan, Balakote, Hamirpur, Mandi sectors in Poonch district and Manjakote sector in Rajouri district during 24 hours between August 15-16.

India summoned Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and lodged a strong protest over the ceasefire violations.

MEA secretary (east) Anil Wadhwa asked Basit to convey to his government that it should rein in its army, particularly in Poonch, saying there has been systematic targeting of Indian civilian population with the use of high calibre weapons, including 120mm mortar bombs. 

Basit was summoned even as the two countries are readying for the first ever NSA-level talks here on terrorism related issues next week. 

Pakistan meanwhile also lodged a strong protest with India against the ‘unprovoked’ firing by its forces in Azad Kashmir.

The Indian Deputy High Commissioner was called in by the Pakistan Foreign Office on Monday.

A protest was lodged against unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian troops at the LoC in Kotli Sector, which resulted in the death of three civilians. Fifteen civilians were also injured as a result of Indian fire.

The Deputy High Commissioner was conveyed that the Indian side must probe and share findings of the investigations with Pakistan as well as instruct its troops to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit, and maintain peace at the LoC.

“Pakistan has noted with regret and deep concern that during the last two months, so far, there have been 70 ceasefire violations from the Indian side of the LoC and the Working Boundary.”

“Hum unhe muhtod jawab de rahen hai. Hamara response dugna-tiguna hai…” 

BILASPUR: India is giving a “befitting” reply to Pakistan, which is engaged in continuous ceasefire violations along the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir, defence minister Manohar Parrikar has said.

“Hum unhe muhtod jawab de rahen hai. Hamara response dugna-tiguna hai… (We are giving them (Pakistan) a befitting reply. Our response is double-triple (in intensity),” the defence minister said.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event here organised by the ‘Vanvasi Vikas Samiti’- a Sangh Pariwar-backed organization.

Responding to a query on rising infiltration bids by insurgents along the International Border with Pakistan, Parrikar said the government was putting up all measures to thwart such incidents.

“Owing to security reasons, I cannot furnish details on the issue but would surely like to tell that we are taking all the measures to foil infiltration bids,” he said.

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