At least 20 families moved from Jhangar to a temporary shelter set up at a government higher secondary school in Rajouri district on Thursday, after intense shelling by the Pakistani army left a woman dead and her husband injured the previous night.
More were expected to evacuate villages near the border to camps in safer areas before dusk. The administration has set up two relief camps in as many government higher secondary schools across Naushera.
“Over 20 families – comprising around 50 people – moved from Jhangar to a shelter set up at a Naushera school. We have stocked rations and other basic amenities for those coming to the camps. Health teams have also been deputed,” Rajouri district deputy commissioner Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary told Hindustan Times, adding that schools along the line of control (LoC) will remain shut on Friday as a precautionary measure.
The woman, identified as Akhtar Bi, was killed after a mortar shell hit her house in Pukharni village. Her injured husband, 40-year-old Mohammad Haneef, has been given a compensatory sum of Rs 1.10 lakh.
“Last night, Pakistani troops opened fire on seven to eight villages in Naushera. Intermittent exchanges are still taking place in Laam and Bhawani areas,” Choudhary said, adding that the situation is being monitored constantly.
The district deputy commissioner has also directed the essential services department to mobilise their services for ongoing evacuations. The Naushera sub-divisional magistrate and a team of doctors have been tasked with ensuring coordination as well as the emergency response.
Besides this, Dr Mandip K Bhandari – Jammu’s newly appointed divisional commissioner – also held a high-level meeting with officers from the district administration and police departments on Thursday evening.
A local resident told HT over the phone that two mortars fired by the Pakistani army hit the Jhangar government middle school while five others exploded in the open field before it. “The school building suffered extensive damage in Wednesday night’s shelling. While a newly constructed toilet block was completely demolished, the computer laboratory and several doors and windows are now in need of repairs,” he said.
Defence spokesperson lieutenant colonel Manish Mehta said the Pakistani army began targeting the villages with small arms and automatic weapons, besides 82-mm and 120-mm mortars, along the LoC in Naushera sector from 10.40 pm on Wednesday.
Pakistani forces have indulged in several truce violations along the LoC in recent times. On May 1, one of its notorious BAT units trespassed into Indian territory and beheaded two soldiers – JCO Paramjit Singh and BSF head constable Prem Sagar – in KG sector of Poonch district. The Indian army had vowed to avenge the killings at a time and place of its choosing.
Wednesday’s ceasefire violation came close on the heels of the cold-blooded murder of a young Army officer, Lt Ummer Fayaz, in Kashmir’s Shopian district.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper quoted Chaudhry Zulqarnain Sarfraz – senior superintendent of police at Kotli in Pak-occupied-Kashmir – as saying that shelling from the Indian side has killed one and injured two others in Sabzkot area. Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria alleged in a tweet that India had violated the ceasefire agreement at the Tandar, Sabzkot, Khuiratta, Baron, Bagsar and Khanjar sectors along the LoC.