5-year-old girl, soldier killed in Pak firing; army warns of ‘right to retaliate’
The Indian Army reserved the right to retaliate as all ceasefire violations were initiated by Pakistan, India said, adding it wanted peace along the de facto border.india Updated: Jul 17, 2017 23:21 IST
A five-year-old girl and a soldier were killed in heavy Pakistan firing along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, forcing India to warn the neighbouring country it reserved the right to hit back.
A soldier and two civilians were also injured in the intense shelling on Indian posts and villages in Rajouri and Poonch districts, affecting around 5,000 people as authorities sounded an alert, asking residents to stay indoors, and closed at least 16 schools indefinitely.
Lt Gen AK Bhat, director general of military operations (DGMO), told his Pakistani counterpart that the Indian Army reserved the right to retaliate as all ceasefire violations were initiated by Pakistan.
The two DGMOs usually speak on Tuesdays but this unscheduled conversation took place on the request of the Pakistani side in face of increased ceasefire violations, sources said.
Naik Muddasar Ahmed (37) of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI), was grievously injured when mortar shells landed on his bunker in Bhimber Gali sector, the army said in a statement. He was taken to a hospital but couldn’t be saved.
The native of Tral in Pulwama in southern Kashmir is survived by his wife and two children. The army said the nation will always remain indebted to him for the supreme sacrifice.
Another JAKLI jawan, Naik Firdous, was severely injured in Poonch’s Balakote, sources said.
Five-year-old Saida Kafeel Kouser was killed when a shell landed on her house in Balakote.
Two Rajouri residents, Shah Begum, wife of Mohammed Sharief of Panjgrain and Sharief Ahmed were also injured in the shelling.
The Pakistani side started firing indiscriminately at around 7.30am, targeting the Bhimber Gali sector, defence spokesman Lt Col Manish Mehta said, adding the Indian side was retaliating strongly.
Schools shut; 120 students stuck in Rajouri
The firing was so intense that the Rajouri administration closed at least 16 schools near the de facto border.
Rajouri deputy commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary told Hindustan Times that heavy mortar shelling was reported in forward areas of tehsil Manjakote in Rajouri at 8. 30 am on Monday.
“A population of 4,500-5,000 in villages of Panjgrain, Rajdhani and Naika among others was affected,” he said.
While schools were closed early morning, 120 students were held up in government school at Panjgrain as the shelling was on. They were evacuated safely by senior police officers, he added.
The Rajouri district administration has made arrangements for establishment of camps in case the situation flared up.
First aid medicines, tents, ration and other requisite items have been rushed as reserve.
Dr Shahid said the schools closed for an indefinite period include primary schools in Sharmabasti, Korapani, Nangal, Tadyalla, Chakwa, Trutta Dhara, Mahal Rajdhani, Kalvatra Mohalla, Lal Beig, Rependi, Kotedhar, Chakli, middle schools in Naika, Kundinakkar, Paryali, Lambibari and high schools in Khorinar and Dhar.
“An alert has been sounded and the people have been advised to stay indoors. Schools at Ghambir Brahmna, Kakora, Manjakote, Panchayat Ghar and other locations have been notified as camps,” he said.
This summer, there has been a heavy exchange of fire along the LoC that has left many soldiers and civilians dead on both sides.
On July 12, two Indian soldiers were killed in Kupwara sector.
The two countries had in November 2003 agreed to hold fire along the LoC but violations have intensified since 2016 as relations have nosedived.
5 Pakistani soldiers dead
Five Pakistani soldiers were killed when their vehicle fell into a river in the Neelum Valley after it was “targeted by the Indian Army”.
The vehicle carrying five soldiers fell into the Neelum river on Sunday, ISPR, the publicity wing of the Pakistani army, posted on its website. Body of one of the soldiers was found and a search was on for others, it said.
(With agency inputs)