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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Pak shells 25 BSF posts for 10 hrs

HT Correspondents , Hindustan Times  Jammu/Srinagar/New Delhi, October 21, 2013
First Published: 23:01 IST(21/10/2013) | Last Updated: 00:07 IST(22/10/2013)

Pakistan stepped up offensive along the international border with its troops pounding 25 Indian posts through Sunday night in Jammu and Samba districts where some civilian areas were also hit.

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A Border Security Force jawan and a special police officer were injured in the heavy shelling and firing at the BSF posts along the 50-km stretch in the Jammu and Samba districts, forcing the border state's CM to demand that India explore options other than talks if Pakistan persisted with the violations.

Pakistan has already violated the 2002 ceasefire agreement more than 150 times this year -- the highest in the last eight years.

Sunday's firing also coincided with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is visiting the US, seeking Washington's intervention to resolve the Kashmir issue. The US has turned down the demand.
"Firing started at 8.30pm on Sunday and continued till about 6.30am on Monday. The Pakistan Rangers pounded mortar shells, which hit many civilian areas," DIG BSF (Jammu frontier) Dharmender Parikh told HT.

In Delhi, army chief Gen Bikram Singh was suddenly called in by defence minister AK Antony to brief him on the situation along the Line of Control (LoC). Gen Singh, who was chairing a high-level meeting of his senior commanders, left the conference following a communication from Antony's office.

Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde during his Tuesday's visit to the state will not go to any forward post and confine himself to meeting BSF personnel in Samba district. The decision was taken in view of continued shelling, official sources said.

On Saturday, too, Pakistan had fired at 25 BSF posts. The border guards, who used restrained earlier, responded to Pakistan firing in the evening.

The BSF officials said their Pakistani counterparts had failed to respond to three calls for hold meetings to defuse the tension.

Firing was most intense in the Pargwal sector, which is being pounded for the last four days. Mortar shells also hit some homes in Ramgarh and the RS Pura sectors.

The truce violations, highest since 2005, have hit life in many border villages, where locals have taken shelter in community halls or moved to safer places.

"India should, in very strong words, tell Pakistan that such behaviour will not be tolerated. We have to look at other options if talks are not helping put an end to ceasefire violations along the LOC," chief minister Omar Abdullah said.

After the 1972 Shimla agreement that the two neighbours signed after fighting a war a year earlier, the ceasefire line was designated as the LoC. It is 740-km-long and is disputed. The international boundary stretches 200km in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian Army was giving a befitting reply to the ceasefire violations and was well prepared to deal with any situation, members of the standing committee of Parliament on defence were told in the Capital. The panel quizzed top army officers over the situation along the volatile border.


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