The Indian Army on Monday destroyed at least three posts of the Pakistan Army and inflicted critical injuries to large number of Pakistani soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch sector shortly after a BSF officer and a minor girl succumbed to injuries in “unprovoked” ceasefire violation by the Pakistan Army in Poonch sector.

Meanwhile, in another successful operation, the joint teams of security forces early on Monday eliminated four terrorists in Lassipora area of Pulwama district. 

In the Pakistan shelling, 13 civilians and four BSF personnel sustained splinter injuries. Despite heavy shelling, local police teams safely evacuated injured residents from forward areas of Mankote.

Eyewitness reports claimed civilian areas which were 7-8 km from LoC were targeted by the Pakistan Army using heavy calibre of weapons.

Martyred BSF officer was identified as Inspector T Alex Lalminlun, while minor girl was identified as five-year-old Sobia Shafiq, daughter of Mohd Shafiq.

Ground reports said, “Pakistan Army targeted civilian areas in Shahpur, Qasba, Guntariyan, Keerni, Mankote and Poonch since early morning.”

Local residents claimed Pakistan army shelled civilian areas using 120 mm artillery shells. In response, Indian army retaliated strongly and effectively. Local reports claimed, “at least three Pakistani posts were destroyed in retaliatory strikes by the Indian army”. Local intelligence reports claimed, at least 12-15 Pakistan army soldiers were present in these posts when Indian Army hit back. However, there was no official confirmation from the Indian army officers or the Ministry of Defence spokesman over the extent of damage caused to the Pakistani army posts in retaliatory strikes across the line of control.

In Poonch town, as injured civilians started trickling in the district hospital, Poonch from shelling affected forward villages, panic stricken residents staged protest demonstrations against the local authorities for failing to provide adequate treatment facilities to the injured in time. Delay caused in shifting the injured residents via chopper to Government Medical College hospital in Jammu triggered protests against the district authorities.

Tension prevailed in the area for last four days with regular exchange of fire along the LoC for several hours. The situation on ground deteriorated on Monday afternoon after Pakistan army started targeting civilian areas on the Indian side.

To prevent injuries to schoolchildren the district authorities had closed down the schools in the worst affected areas falling within 5 km radius of the LoC. The schools will remain closed on April 2 as well in the wake of prevailing security situation.

In another related development, Northern Army Commander Lt Gen Ranbir Singh arrived in Srinagar for a two day visit to review the security situation in the region in the backdrop of recent successful counter terrorist operations and the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Accompanied by the Chinar Corps Commander Lt Gen KJS Dhillon, the Army Commander visited the forward areas in the frontier district of Baramulla, where he was briefed by commanders on ground about the current situation.

During the visit, the Army Commander was briefed on the counter infiltration grid and operational preparedness of the formations apart from the various developmental works being undertaken to improve the life of the people residing in remote areas. He was appreciative of the measures and Standard Operating Procedures instituted by the units and formations to meet the challenges posed by the inimical forces.

Later in the day, the Army Commander was briefed by the Chinar Corps Commander, Lt Gen KJS Dhillon at Badami Bagh Cantonment on the prevailing operational aspects.