At a flag meeting during the wee hours here on Saturday, the Border Security Force (BSF) warned the Pakistani border guards, the Rangers, that India would no longer tolerate acts of aggression like Friday’s unprovoked shelling.
On Friday night, three rockets fired from the Pakistani side fell near densely populated areas on the border near Attari in Punjab’s Amritsar district, about 450 km west of New Delhi. The Rangers, however, denied any role in the incident.
Although no loss of life or property was reported, the firing from across the border —second in the past two months — created panic among the villagers on this otherwise peaceful border area.
As in the past when the Pakistani authorities did not bother to investigate, the Rangers tried to wriggle out of the situation this time too by claiming that the firing was the handiwork of some smugglers.
The BSF did not allow farmers to go across the fencing to work their fields on Saturday. But residents of 36 border villages, led by Border Area Sangharsh Committee (BASC), gathered in Attar to protest against the perennial danger that they face.
The committee urged the centre to use diplomatic channels to pressure Pakistan and demanded, among other things, that the Centre restore the hardship allowance for tilling lands across the fencing.
Jaswant Singh, a resident of Dhanoei Khurd village, whose house got partially damaged due to Friday’s shelling, said the government must ensure that they were not exposed to war-like-situations every now and then.
Following up on Friday’s firing, the BSF has taken extra precautions along the 191.5 km-long highly volatile International Border with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir.
A senior BSF official said: “The BSF always expects such actions from the Rangers. We are geared up to handle any eventuality.”
The J&K border has become tense recently because of more infiltration attempts by Pakistan-based terrorists before the when the mountain passes — the usual routes terrorists use to sneak into India — become inaccessible in the winter.
(With inputs from Tarun Upadhyay in Srinagar)