‘2936 cases of ceasefire violations by Pak in 2018, highest in 15 years’

‘2936 cases of ceasefire violations by Pak in 2018, highest in 15 years’
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JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir recorded 2,936 instances of ceasefire violations by Pakistan in 2018 – the highest in the past 15 years with an average of eight cases daily – in which 61 people were killed and over 250 injured, officials said Monday.
Shelling and firing by Pakistani troops was “very heavy” in 2018, virtually making the 2003 India-Pakistan border truce “redundant”, they said.
“Pakistani troops repeatedly targeted forwards posts and villages along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) to create a fear psychosis among the people,” a senior police officer said.
“Pakistani forces have violated the ceasefire 2,936 times in 2018, in which 61 people were killed and 250 injured,” a senior Army official told PTI.
The violations continued despite Pakistani troops vowing to maintain peace on the border during more than 20 brigade commander-level and flag meetings with the Indian forces. “Pakistan vows to maintain peace and strengthen border relations, but they do not keep their promises,” the Army official said.
The number of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops in 2018 was over three times that of 2017, when 971 cases were reported. In 2017, 31 people – 12 civilians and 19 security forces personnel – were killed and 151 suffered injuries.
People living near the border in Jammu, Kathua, Samba, Rajouri and Poonch districts were severely hit by firing and shelling by Pakistani troops. Fear gripped the border populace due to frequent shelling, which prompted thousands of people to migrate to safer places.
The officials said that due to shelling and firing incidents, people had to migrate to safer places three times last year, which affected education and farm activities.
To protect border residents in view of increasing ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir, the Government of India (GoI) sanctioned Rs 415 crore for the construction of over 14,400 underground bunkers along the LoC and the IB and made efforts to speed up the work last year.
Over 300 bunkers have been constructed under the programme in Rajouri, Poonch, Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts and tenders have been floated for more such bunkers, the officials said, adding that over 4,000 bunkers would be constructed this year.
The officials said that in 2015, 405 cases of ceasefire violations were reported and 583 such instances were recorded in 2014.
“There had been a gradual increase in ceasefire violations by Pakistan between 2009 and 2013. The corresponding figures for 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 were 347, 114, 62, 44, and 28,” they said.
In the previous three years, the numbers of such violations were77 in 2008, 21 in 2007 and three in 2006, according to official data.
For three years – 2004, 2005 and 2006 – there was not a single such violation on the border.
The GoI led by the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee entered into a border ceasefire agreement with Pakistan along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir on November 26, 2003.
India shares a 3,323-km-long border with Pakistan, of which 221 km of the IB and 740 km of the LoC fall in Jammu and Kashmir.
—PTI