Four civilians and a BSF jawan were killed while 12 others were injured as the Pakistan Rangers rained mortars on villages and border outposts in Jammu today, escalating border skirmishes a day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistani troops targeted the areas along the International Border for the fourth day on the trot, triggering fear and panic among the border residents.
Inspector General of the 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 R S Pura, Bishnah and Arnia sectors of Jammu from 0100 hours, a senior BSF officer told PTI.
BSF troops guarding the borderline retaliated, he said. The slain jawan was identified as 28-year-old Constable Sitaram Upadhyaya of the 192 Battalion. He was critically injured at the Jabowal border outpost around 0130 hours and died en route to GMC Hospital in Jammu.
Upadhyay hailed from Giridih in Jharkhand and joined the force 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 R S Pura and Arnia sectors, four civilians, including a couple, were killed and 12 others injured, Additional District Development Commissioner Arun Manhas told PTI.
SDPO, R S Pura, Sahil Prashur said the police were using bullet-proof vehicles to evacuate the injured to hospital and was reaching out to the people in affected zones. In view of the shelling, the administration has activated the shelter set up.
However, there was a lull in the shelling in Kathua and Samba districts. “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 R S 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.
Yesterday, a BSF jawan was among two persons injured when the Pakistan Rangers opened fire and lobbed mortars at over 15 border outposts and civilian areas along the IB in Samba and Kathua districts.
On May 15, a 28-year-old BSF jawan was killed as Pakistan troops violated the ceasefire by opening fire at forward posts to help infiltrators cross the IB in the Samba sector.
(With inputs from PTI)