JAMMU: Two more Pakistan army personnel were killed as Indian troops retaliated to heavy mortar shelling and firing by Pakistani army in several sectors on the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri, Poonch and Jammu districts, creating war like situation as mortar shells landed as close as Nowshera town, leading to strong wave of panic among the people during the past two days.

Two Army personnel and two civilians were injured on the Indian side while number of houses and other structures were damaged and several cattle were either killed or injured in the continued shelling. The Indian retaliation, apart from killing two more Pakistani troops taking their death toll during last three days to five, also led to heavy infrastructural damages on Pakistan side for which Pakistan’s Director General (South Asia & SAARC) Mohammad Faisal summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh and condemned “ceasefire violations” by India.

Sources told the Excelsior that during past 48 hours, Pakistani troops violate ceasefire at Nowshera and Sunderbani sectors in Rajouri, Khour sector in Jammu, Mendhar, Balakote and Mankote in Poonch by using very long range mortar shells like 120mm, besides 82mm, to target civilian population and forward posts of the Army.

Such was the intensity of Pakistan’s shelling that one of the mortar shells fell close to Hanjana bridge near Nowshera town. However, it went down into the river and failed to cause any casualties or damage. Number of mortar shells in the sectors, hit by shelling, fell in civilian areas.

Pakistan confirmed the killing of its two soldiers at Bhimber/ Samahini sector opposite Rajouri and identified the slain Army personnel as Sepoy Muneer Chohan, 32, resident of village Kahuta and Sepoy Amir Hussain, 28, resident of Bhimber. It also released the photographs of dead army men.

With this, five Pakistani troops have been killed during last three days of heavy exchange of shelling and firing along LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts, which has also been extended by Pakistan to parts of Khour sector, bordering Sunderbani on the LoC, in Jammu district. However, no losses were reported in Khour sector so far.

Two Army jawans–Naib Subedar Tarsem Singh and Sepoy Sandeep Rai were injured in Pakistan shelling at Sonawali Gali in Mankote sector of Poonch district while a civilian Ex-Subedar Suresh Kumar son of Yashpal R/o Gania was injured in Nowshera sector. Another civilian sustained minor injuries in Mendhar.

Sources said nearly two dozen houses were damaged, extensively as well as partially, in Pakistan shelling yesterday while number of cattle were killed or injured in Pakistani shelling. Exact losses were being worked out by the administration. They added that civilians had narrow escape as number of mortar shells narrowly missed the intended targets in shelling-hit sectors.

“Normal life has completely been paralyzed in all forward areas of LoC in Rajouri and Poonch districts with people being confined to their houses for the past two days due to very heavy shelling and firing by Pakistani troops. While 72 educational institutions have been closed in shelling range areas of Rajouri district till March 5, schools falling within the Pakistani range of firing, also remained closed,” sources said.

Middle standard examinations have also been affected as some of the exam centres fell within the Pakistani firing range, sources disclosed.

Notwithstanding heavy shelling in civilian areas, the people, however, stayed put in their houses and haven’t migrated in any area, sources said, adding that the administration has already put Contingency Plan in place and taken all steps to accommodate the people if there was migration from any village of the LoC.

According to sources, people preferred to stay put in their houses on the LoC. Some people have also constructed their own small bunkers close to their houses, where they take shelter during shelling.

“The repeated summoning of India’s Deputy High Commissioner, JP Singh by Pakistan’s Foreign Office, was a clear indication that Pakistan army has suffered heavy casualties and other damages like posts and bunkers,” sources pointed out and said, India was retaliating firing by the Pakistan side very effectively at all places on the LoC.

In frustration, they said, Pakistan army was using long range mortar shells like 120mm to cause civilian casualties on the Indian side, which was witnessed in Nowshera sector yesterday afternoon.

The frightened villagers remained confined to their houses even at the time when shelling had stopped from Pakistan side as they feared that Pakistani troops could resume ceasefire violations any time.