RS PURA (JAMMU): The metallic smell of gunpowder lingered in the air and thick clouds of smoke belched from the charred houses in the Jorafarm hamlet, razed to the ground in the relentless firing by Pakistan before residents could have their Sehri - pre-dawn Ramaz meal.
"What Sehri? We are alive because we fled our homes in the dark. When it was time for Sehri, we watched our hamlet being torn down by Pakistan," Jallan Din Gujjar, a resident of Jorafarm said.
Pakistan today rained down mortars on the "hamlet of Gujjar milkmen", located around 400 metres from the border.
The shells blew their kullas (mud houses) to smithereens, turning the hamlet into a huge heap of debris, said one of the residents.
Din, who returned to the hamlet in the R S Pura sector to rescue his horses, said the border dwellers "live in the shadow of death".
"We are lucky to have escaped the brutality. We have taken refuge in a government building at some distance from the hamlet," another resident said.
Pakistani troops have been targeting border outposts and hamlets closed to the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir, triggering panic among residents.
A large number of people have fled their homes due to the shelling along the IB in the Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts.
More than 100 families reside in the Jorafarm hamlet, which is famous for its milk products.
This is the fourth time Jorafarm has borne the brunt of Pakistani shelling in recent years.
On January 20 this year, hundreds of kullas were ravaged and a huge number of bovines killed in Jorafarm in firing by Pakistan.
At least six people were injured and more than 30 mud houses destroyed in another incident of cross-border firing in September, 2017.
Mohammad Akram and his two-year-old son were killed in Jorafarm in Pakistan shelling in 2014.
Shelling and firing are now the norm for the Gujjars of this border hamlet.
Year after year they painstakingly build their mud-and-grass houses only to be reduced to rubble.
Blood-splattered compounds, smashed window panes and demolished roofs are all that are left of houses in border hamlets in the Arnia and R S Pura sectors.
Farmlands have craters due to mortar bombs and have turned into live minefields.
Seven people, including two Border Security Force jawans and an-eight-month old infant, have been killed in ceasefire violations in the past one week.