M A I N   N E W S

Hit Pak back with full force: Govt
* Border fire India says troops prepared for long haul
* 2 killed as Rangers shell 40 villages
Ajay Banerjee/Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Jammu, October 8
The Union Government has reportedly given the country’s security apparatus a free hand to deal with continuous truce violations by Pakistan. The move came as Pakistani troops on Wednesday resorted to heavy shelling in border areas in Jammu and Kashmir, killing two persons and injuring 13 others.

In a stern message to Islamabad, New Delhi has made it clear that its forces were ready for a long haul in case the cross-border firing continues. “Our forces are not going to stop. We are giving a massive reply to their firing and are prepared for a long haul,” said top government sources. “There will be no flag meetings or talks till the firing stops,” said sources, adding that the Army and the BSF have been given a free hand to retaliate and respond in full measure to all firing originating from Pakistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was attending a function at house of IAF Chief Air Chief Marshall Arup Raha, said: “Everything will be fine soon”. At the same function, Modi talked separately to Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag. National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval is expected to brief the PM on the border situation. BSF Director General DK Pathak will hold a meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Two women of a family were killed and 13 others, including three BSF men, were injured in extensive shelling by Pakistan Rangers on more than 50 forward posts and 40 villages along the 198-km International Border in Jammu. The firing has triggered an exodus of over 20,000 people from border villages to safe zones.

“The Rangers targeted Chilyari village along the IB in Samba district around 7.30 am. In the shelling, Shankkuntla Devi (60) and her daughter-in-law Bholi Devi (30) were killed. Four other members of the family also sustained shrapnel injuries. They have been hospitalised,” said SSP Samba Anil Mangotra. Two BSF men were injured in in Arnia while another was hurt in Pargwal sector. In Jeora Farm, five Gujjars were injured in the shelling. In the past one week, seven persons have died in the firing by Pakistan and over 70 have been injured.

A senior Indian government functionary said the recent offensive by Pakistan is a result of its frustration of having failed to highlight the Kashmir issue on the international stage. “The recent snub at the UN General Assembly in New York has hurt them,” said the functionary.

India, in July this year, had asked the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to close down its Delhi office saying it was irrelevant after the 1972 Simla agreement. Pakistan also seems to be troubled over the fact that its efforts to woo the J-K separatists have not been accepted by India. “Talks with Pakistan cannot be held under any kind of duress. Islamabad cannot dictate the terms for dialogue,” said the functionary. In Jammu, a BSF officer said: “Almost all posts in Arnia, RS Pura, Hiranagar, Ramgarh, Samba, Kanachak and Pargwal sub-sectors were targeted in the overnight firing by the Rangers.”

“We have been retaliating strongly and the border population has been asked to take optimum safety measures,” said BSF Director General, DK Pathak. On Tuesday, nearly 8,000 residents of 21 villages on the Zero Line in Hiranagar sub-sector of Kathua district shifted to 16 relief camps.

Kathua DC Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said: “Apart from 16 relief camps, 61 school buildings, 30 health institutions and 18 panchyat ghars have been identified to house border residents.”

“Eight camps have been set up in Samba district where 500 persons have moved in. Another 500 are expected to join them. People are pouring in and if needed more camps would be set up,” Samba DC Mubarak Singh.

‘PM not doing anything’

"The issue (of firing) is quite serious and it should not happen. The government is taking it seriously and we want a quick resolution of the problem. We want peace and tranquillity and want the borders to be normal"

Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, IAF Chief

"Before the LS polls, Modi used to speak of adopting an aggressive approach towards China and Pakistan. Now, despite so many provocations, the PM is not doing anything for the last three months"

Rahul Gandhi, Cong VP





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