BSF constable also killed, IG says situation ‘tense’, villagers being evacuated
Jammu: A day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged mortar and gunfire in Jammu’s RS Pura, Bishnah and Arnia sectors since past Thursday midnight, leaving 8 civilians and an Indian BSF soldier dead on both sides of the border.
Indian officials said four civilians and a BSF soldier were killed on the Indian side and 12 others were injured as the Pakistan Rangers rained mortars on villages and border outposts in Jammu.
Pakistan authorities said “unprovoked ceasefire violations had killed four members of a family” in village Khanoor, while 10 other people were injured.
Inspector General of BSF, Jammu Frontier, Ram Awtar said the situation was “tense” and that the paramilitary force was responding to Pakistan appropriately, causing them huge damage.
“The firing and shelling was expected as the harvesting season is over. We have taken suitable action,” the IG said.
He said that the BSF had struck back at Pakistani posts, avenging the death of Indian jawans.
Awtar said this can be seen from the coverage on Pakistani television channels.
The Pakistan Rangers lobbed mortars and opened fire at areas in the RS Pura, Bishnah and Arnia sectors of Jammu from 0100 hours Friday, a senior BSF officer told PTI. He said the BSF troops guarding the borderline retaliated.
The slain BSF soldier was identified as 28-year-old Constable Sitaram Upadhyaya of the 192 Battalion. He was critically injured at the Jabowal border outpost at around 0130 hours and died en route to GMC Hospital in Jammu.
Upadhyaya hailed from Giridih in Jharkhand and joined the BSF in 2011. He is survived by a three-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter, officials said.
An Assistant Sub-Inspector of the BSF also suffered a splinter injury at the Pittal border outpost, the officer said, adding that he had been hospitalised.
In the heavy Pakistan shelling in the RS Pura and Arnia sectors, four civilians, including a couple, were killed and 12 others injured, Additional District Development Commissioner Arun Manhas told PTI.
SDPO RS Pura, Sahil Prashur, said the police were using bullet-proof vehicles to evacuate the injured to hospital and were reaching out to the people in affected zones. In view of the shelling, the administration has activated the shelter set-up, he said.
There was a lull in the shelling in Kathua and Samba districts during the day. “There was no firing and shelling from across the border in Kathua and Samba districts since yesterday,” the officer said.
A BSF officer said the paramilitary force targeted a Pakistan post opposite the RS Pura sector and caused huge damage to rival forces.
Meanwhile, the BSF and the J&K Police paid tributes to Upadhyaya. A wreath-laying ceremony organised at the BSF headquarters to honour him was attended by minister Sat Sharma and senior security officials.
On Thursday, a BSF soldier was among two persons injured when the Pakistan Rangers opened fire and lobbed mortars at more than 15 border outposts and civilian areas along the International Border (IB) in Samba and Kathua districts.
On May 15, a 28-year-old BSF soldier was killed as Pakistan troops opened fire at forward posts along the IB in Samba sector.