Pakistani troops targeted border outposts and villages with mortar shells and small arms in Jammu district on Monday, 21 May, killing an eight-month-old boy and injuring six, including a special police officer, reported PTI.
Firing from across the border took place in several areas along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB), drawing effective retaliation from the Indian troops, the officials said.
Eight-month-old Nitin Kumar, who was sleeping with his family outside their home in Pallanwala sector along the LoC, was killed in Pakistani firing, while six people – including the special police officer – were injured in Pakistani shelling in Arnia sector along the IB.
Monday's firing, in violation of a ceasefire agreement, came two days after four civilians and a BSF jawan were killed in firing by Pakistani troops in Jammu district.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who met a few victims of Saturday's attack, described the killings as "highly unfortunate.”
She said the attacks came when Ramzan had just begun and the people of the state had heaved a sigh of relief after the central government announced an unilateral halt to security-related operations in the state during the holy month.
Union minister Jitendra Singh said that by killing people during the holy month of Ramzan, Pakistan "is guilty of sacrilege.”
“I have seen it and the entire world has seen it. It's saddening. Our soldiers are not sitting silent, befitting reply will be given to them,” Hansraj Ahir, Minister of State for Home Affairs, told ANI.
According to the BSF, “Pakistani troops started mortar shelling in civilian areas in Arnia sector around 0700 hours.” Border Out Posts (BoPs) of Vikram, Chinaz and Jabowal were hit by Pakistani shelling.
BSF troops guarding the border retaliated and the heavy exchange of fire between the two sides stopped around 2 pm, a BSF officer officer said.
Pakistan Rangers rained mortar shells on Arnia town. A mortar shell landed at a police station, damaging its wall and some parked vehicles. It also killed a special police officer (SPO).
The heavy firing triggered panic among locals. Many of them fled from home and took shelter in camps set up by the government.
According to the officials, the intense Pakistani shelling started a day after it “pleaded” with the BSF to stop firing, after being pounded with heavy artillery that left a Pakistani trooper dead.
In the firing by Pakistani troops along the LoC in Pallanwala sector in Jammu district, eight-month-old Nitin Kumar was killed in Sherpalai hamlet, a police officer said.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Jammu, Vivek Gupta said six people, including the SPO and 62-year-old woman Darshana Devi, were injured in Pakistani shelling and have been hospitalised.
All schools within five kilometres of the border have been closed as a precautionary measure, he said.
The state has witnessed a spurt in Pakistani shelling and firing along the IB and the LoC this year. Over 700 such incidents have been reported this year, which have left 38 people, including 18 security personnel, dead and scores injured.
The chief minister on Tuesday, 22 May, visited the house of Tarseem Lal and his wife Manjeet Kour, who were killed in Pakistani shelling in Mangu chak belt of R S Pura sector on Saturday.
She assured all support to the victims of the border firing and consoled the families.
Interacting with the people there, the chief minister described the killings as "highly unfortunate.”
She said the people of the state, who had gone through very tough times in the past, wanted to live in an environment free from violence and killings. She said the Centre's move of halting security operations had generated a hope among the people who expected positive reciprocation to it from all stakeholders.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)