Jammu/Srinagar, June 3 (IANS) Two BSF troopers were killed and 11 others, including 10 civilians, injured on Sunday in heavy shelling and firing by Pakistan Rangers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Akhnoor sector, triggering retaliation from the Indian side.
The clashes, which lasted almost eight hours, forced the authorities to shift civilians from border villages in Pargwal and Kanachak sub-sectors to safer places out of the line of fire, with police using bulletproof vehicles in at least 30 villages.
Inspector General of Police S.D.Singh Jamwal said the Pakistani shelling and firing started around 3.30 a.m. and continued till 11.30 a.m.
Pakistani shells landed deep inside the Indian territory in Pargwal and Kanachak sub-sectors.
Assistant Sub-Inspector S.N. Yadav and Constable V.K. Pandey of the Border Security Force (BSF) were killed in the violation of the 2003 truce in Akhnoor sector’s Pargwal sub-sector, the police said.
The area affected involved 30 villages and 10 BSF outposts.
“Eleven civilians and a BSF trooper who were injured have been shifted for treatment to the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu city,” a police officer said.
Civilians flocked to the hospital to donate blood for the injured.
Sunday’s clashes come just five days after the Director Generals Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries agreed to implement the 2003 ceasefire pact earnestly in a bid to ensure peace on both the International Border and the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.
After the clashes halted in Akhnoor sector, residents of over 30 villages came out of their homes to take stock of the losses suffered by their homes, cattle and farm land.
BSF’s Inspector General Ram Awtar told reporters that while Pakistan targeted civilian areas, in its retaliation, the BSF did not target any civilian facility on the Pakistan side of the international border.
BSF sources said their firing destroyed 10 posts of Pakistan Rangers.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said it was unfortunate that Pakistan resorted to firing and shelling after agreeing to implement the ceasefire.
“People are dying on both sides of the border… Talks between the two DGMOs must be immediately started to bring calm to the borders,” she said.
Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta visited some of the affected villages and also met the injured civilians in the hospital.
Meanwhile, the brother of an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer from Jammu and Kashmir is suspected to have joined the militant ranks, informed sources said.
Intelligence sources said that Shams-ul-Haq Mengnoo, belonging to Dragud village of Shopian district and pursuing a course in Unani medicine and surgery (BUMS) in a Srinagar college, was missing since May 26 but his family hasn’t approached them to seek his whereabouts.
Mengnoo’s brother is serving outside Jammu and Kashmir.
Police sources said if the apprehensions about the youth having joined the militant ranks turn out to be true, all efforts will be made to bring him back to the mainstream.
Also, the Army killed a militant in the LoC’s Keran sector on Sunday, officials said.
Authorities also said that two of the five militants killed by the Army last month while trying to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir’s Tangdhar sector were identified as locals by their families.
The Army had said that five militants trying to infiltrate the LoC on May 25. While the Army said it recovered huge cache of arms and ammunition from the slain militants, their exact identity had not been established.
Based on photographic evidences, two families from Pulwama and Kulgam districts claimed the two militants were their kin.