24 Sep 17/Sunday

Hundreds flee their homes as Pak extends shelling on IB. Jammu and Kashmir government has established 15 shelter camps for the shelling affected people of Arnia sector.

Hundreds of families living along the International Border (IB) have abandoned their homes and shifted to safer places after Pakistan extended shelling to Ramgarh and other sectors in the Jammu division.

Four people were injured in a fresh bout of cross-border shelling in Arnia sector on Thursday night. Six livestock were also killed and 34 others injured in the shelling. Two houses were damaged. Police said around 727 civilians trapped in different places in Arnia sector have evacuated to safer places.

Jammu and Kashmir government has established 15 shelter camps for the shelling affected people of Arnia sector. Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh visited the shelter camps and directed the officers to ensure basic facilities including power supply, water supply and sanitation and others.

“Concerned officers should prepare an action plan suggesting what could be done to ensure the education of students in these relief camps,” Singh said.

Pakistan Rangers extended the shelling to Samba and Ramgarh sectors on Thursday night. Shells landed in the village leaving a trail of destruction in the Samba district. More than 100 families shifted from villages situated close to IB in Ramgarh sector to the shelter camps on Thursday night.

Authorities have set up three shelter camps in Samba for the villagers who fled their homes during the night to escape the cross-border shelling.

“Last night around 100 odd families shifted from the villages to the shelter homes set up by the administration. Mostly four villages are worst affected, but the people from other villages are also moving out apprehending the shelling in their areas too,” said Sheetal Nanda, district development commissioner of Samba.

“Day before yesterday there was shelling in the morning. Last night it was heavy shelling. One house has been damaged and one cattle had died”, said Nanda.

Mostly the villagers are moving out of their homes during the night to stay either in shelter camps or at relatives places to escape the shelling. At the break of the dawn, people return back to take care of cattle and other chores. People again shift to shelter camps at dusk because Pakistan has been pounded indiscriminately during the night.

“Most of the people in my area have shifted because of the shelling. I too have moved out to stay with my relatives”, said Yash Paul, a resident of Arnia.

Pakistani forces are using heavy caliber long-range weapons including 120 mm mortars, which has a range of seven kilometers, and 82 mm mortars, having a range of 4.5 kilometers, to inflict maximum damage deep into the civilian areas near the IB.

“We share the agonies and miseries of the border dwellers who are braving the brunt of Pakistan shelling. Border dwellers are forced to run helter-skelter for safety with the government just looking the other way”, said Surjeet Singh Slathia, former minister and Senior State Vice President of National Conference.

It may be noted that the Hurriyat who show that they have large clout in Pakistan are nowhere to appeal to the Pakistani Army and Rangers to stop firing. These so-called self-styled patrons of Kashmiri people tend to stay away from commenting about Pakistan in situations where the Pak Army is involved especially shelling of Innocent Civilians.