Monday, 6 October 2014

Heaviest Pakistani shelling in decades devastates hamlet in Jammu

ARNIA BORDER (Jammu): Blood stained beds, torn off rooftops and windows punctured by bullets and splinters of mortar bombs are a mute testimony to the Pakistani shelling in the border hamlet where smell of cordite and gunpowder hangs in the air.

The overnight attacks by Pakistani forces that has left five people dead have triggered panic among the border villagers.

"We have not seen such an attack of mortar bombs and heavy firing in the past several decades, even not during the August ceasefire violations. It was the worst attack on civilian areas", Kulbushan Kumar, a resident of Arnia town, told PTI.

Such was the intensity of the firing and shelling that 82mm mortar shells landed in Mahasha da Kote and Arnia town, which is around 5km away from the international border in Jammu district.

Carcasses of animals killed due to splinter injuries are also seen strewn in Kaku di Kotha and other areas.

Relatives of Rajesh Kumar, who was killed in mortar shell firing from the Pakistan's side, weep at Masha da Kothe village, in Arnia sector. (AP photo)

"Arnia town, which we considered a safe place, has also been hit by scores of mortars that killed one person Ram Lal," Kumar said.

Most of the houses in Mahasha Kote, Pindi, Koku di Kotha and Channa village were hit by the bullets and splinters of mortar shells, which tore roof tops and walls of several houses besides breaking windows and doors.

"It is the worst attack. Five people have been killed and 26 others were injured in firing and shelling in Arnia belt," subdivisional police officer Devender Singh told PTI.

Singh, who led the police rescue team and shifted the injured to the hospital even as firing continued, said, "Such firing has not been seen in the past. We have evacuated border villagers to safer places. Pakistan cannot be trusted."

Villagers injured by Pakistani cross-border firing being treated at a government hospital in Jammu. (AFP photo)

Bamroo Devi, who lost four members of her family in Mahasha Kote village, is seen weeping besides the blood stained beds in the compound of her house which was hit by mortars.

"What was our fault that they killed our family members?" she says.

A pall of gloom prevails in this village with people consoling those who have lost their near and dear ones in the firing.

"The state and central government should learn from this tragedy and ensure permanent relocation of the critical border villages located close to IB," says Sarwan Singh.

The neighbours of Ram Paul, who was killed in the shelling by Pakistani rangers, are still in a state of shock.

Villagers gather near bedsheets stained with blood in firing from the Pakistan's side while the residents were asleep on roof of their house, at Masha da Kothe village, in J&K's Arnia sector. (AP photo)

"How can the shells reach us here as the area is 6km away from the border? It has triggered fear among us," Hardev said.

The bloodbath in the compound of Ram's house is now haunting the villagers, who are mulling to shift from the area.

"We want to now shift to safer areas," he said. Sunil Kumar, who lost a relative, said, "Around midnight we woke up to the sound of shelling which rattled windows and doors."

"Huddled in one corner of the room, we watched the house being hit by all sides by splinters and some of them pierced the windows but we all escaped unhurt," he said.