SRINAGAR: Over 10,000 people living in border villages along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir have abandoned their homes as tension between India and Pakistan escalated with the neighbouring country even refusing to accept protest note from the BSF.
“We had last communication with the Pakistani side on January 1. Since then we have been trying to communicate with them, but to no avail. On January 3, they refused to accept our protest note. They even refused to accept it from Wagah side,” DG, BSF, D K Pathak told reporters in Jammu on Tuesday.“Pakistani troops fired in the night on at least 40 Indian posts and civilian areas along the IB in Hira Nagar sector in Kathua, Samba and Arnia sectors,” a BSF official told Express.
He said the BSF men deployed along the IB returned the fire and gave befitting reply to the Pakistani troops. The official said there was halt in Pakistani firing from the midnight.
The Pakistani Rangers have been firing 82 mm mortar shells and some of the shells have landed in civilian areas, some three-four km inside the border.
The near daily firing and shelling by Pakistani troops since December 31 has caused fear among the border people and they are abandoning their homes and leaving for safer areas.
“The border villages are near empty now as fear stricken villagers have either been evacuated or have themselves moved to safer places,” they said.
Deputy Commissioner, Samba, Mubarak Singh told Express that 4,000-5,000 people living in around 20 villages close to the border have been displaced by Pakistani firing in the district.
“Since there was calm on the border today (Tuesday), many people returned to their homes during the day. However, they went back in the evening as Pakistani troops have been usually firing in the night,” he said.
Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Shantu Manu told Express that government has set up camps for the displaced people. “We are making efforts to rescue the people caught in border firing and shift them to safer places,” he said.
Pathak was in Jammu to pay homage to BSF constable Devender Singh, who was killed in firing in Samba sector on Monday. Two BSF men and two Army men have been killed in the Pakistani firing since December 31 while four Rangers were also killed in retaliatory firing by the BSF men.
“The Pakistani side has suffered more damage than us,” the DG BSF said.
He said the fire is being initiated by Rangers and the BSF men were only retaliating and returning the fire.
On reasons behind Pakistan resorting to daily firing and shelling, the DG BSF said, “ They may be trying to push militants into J&K by facilitating their infiltration; divert attention of people in the country from Peshawar incident and this may also be because they may be attempting to create disturbances during the Republic Day, which is not far off”.