As many as 36 schools were ordered closed for three days as Pakistani troops continued to pound 35 villages and Indian posts with mortar shells along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district on Saturday.
This is in addition to 51 Nowshera schools that had been previously closed for an indefinite period. The new order from the deputy commissioner’s office has taken the number of closed schools in the district to 87. At least two civilians – including a minor girl – were killed on Saturday. Four of the nine people injured in the shelling are soldiers.
According to an order issued by Rajouri deputy commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, two schools in the Dandesar zone, 18 in Doongi and 16 in Manjakote – all located in a radius of five km from the LoC – have been closed till Wednesday.
These 87 schools have a total enrolment of 4,457 students. District administration officials have arranged for informal classes to be held at relief camps.
According to sources, mortar shelling began at Tarkundi and Naika area around 6.30 pm. Seven mortar shells landed in the vicinity of the village, forcing residents to lock themselves inside their houses. Three schools – one in Manjakote and two others in Nowshera zone – were damaged.
The Nowshera, Qila Darhal and Manjakote areas bore the brunt of Saturday’s shelling. Four soldiers of the Indian Army’s 48 Rashtriya Rifles suffered injuries in the exchange of fire, said an intelligence source.
Rajouri deputy commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said the deceased were identified as 51-year-old Haji Tufail Hussain and his relative’s 13-year-old daughter, Asiya Bi.
“Heavy shelling during the day hampered our rescue and evacuation process as the road leading to Jhangar was constantly in the line of fire. More than 200 people from various villages have been shifted to various camps established by district administration where facilities of ration, cooking, drinking water, sanitation, first aid and proper accommodation have been provided,” said Choudhary, adding that two more vehicles carrying around 70 people reached Nowshera – taking the number of migrants to 270.
So far, three camps have been made operational and 28 others notified in the wake of expected migration from affected villages, he said.
A fleet of six buses was inducted into Jhangar areas at 4 pm for evacuating around 400 people. Six ambulances were pressed into action for shifting injured. One mobile medical unit was stationed at Nowshera, and another deputed to forward areas.