JAMMU, May 24: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today held high level review of security situation, construction of border fencing, roads and Border Out Posts (BOPs) along International Border with Pakistan, where situation returned to normal today after nine days of intense shelling and firing in which 12 persons including 10 civilians and two BSF jawans were killed and over 50 others injured.
Rajnath called for strict vigil and surveillance along the International Border with Pakistan at the high-level meeting, which among others was attended by Union Home Secretary Shri Rajiv Gauba, Special Secretary (Border Management) BR Sharma, Joint Secretaries of Border Management, other senior officers of MHA and Central Armed Police Forces.
Rajnath had recently stated that the BSF, which mans 198-kilometers International Boundary from Lakhanpur to Akhnoor with Pakistan, has been given full powers to effectively retaliated Pakistan shelling and firing but don’t fire the first bullet.Apart from Indo-Pak border, Rajnath also reviewed situation in the Kashmir valley after the announcement of Ramzan ceasefire by him. Top MHA officials briefed the Home Minister on the situation in the Valley.
An official handout posted by the Press Informational Bureau (PIB) said with regard to the Indo-Pakistan border, Rajnath expressed satisfaction that 97% of the sanctioned border fencing work has been completed. He reviewed implementation of pilot projects on Comprehensive Integrated Border Management Systems (CIBMS) on nonphysical barriers. He also stressed for utilization of space technology for strengthening the border guarding and policing.
Rajnath complimented proactive role being played by Central Armed Forces on the borders.
He also reviewed working of Border Area Development Plan and directed that all border States should send their annual action plans to MHA for release of funds quickly and all schemes and projects under BADP should be implemented at fast pace.
Meanwhile, after nine days of almost consecutive shelling and firing, guns fell silent along the International Border today with no ceasefire violation reported from any area but nearly 50,000 people continued to desert their houses and were staying in safer areas in anticipation of fresh firing from the Pakistan side
“The International Border in all five sectors including RS Pura, Arnia, Ramgarh, Samba and Hiranagar remained calm since last evening with no ceasefire violations reported from Pakistan side,’’ sources said, adding that the people of border areas have heaved a sigh of relief as guns fell silent on the borders, which had been roaring for past nine days in which two BSF jawans and 10 civilians including two infants were killed and more than 50 others were injured.
Despite normalcy, nearly 50,000 residents of the border areas stayed away from their houses taking shelter in safer areas including residences of their relatives and friends and relief camps set up by the administration. Even the people, who were still putting up in the houses in forward villages, didn’t venture out and preferred to stay in the houses or bunkers as they feared that Pakistan could resume shelling and firing anytime.
Educational institutions also remained close in entire border belt within five kilometers radius in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts with authorities deciding not to take any chance with safety and security of students.
Few were camping in the relief camps set up by the administration in RS Pura, Arnia and Ramgarh sectors in the absence of any facilities including food, water and power. Majority of people have left for the houses of their relatives and friends in the safer areas.
Sources said large number of houses, cattle sheds and other structures have been damaged during nine-day long firing and number of cattle have been killed and injured.
The always bustling Arnia border town and nearly 120 border hamlets along the Indo-Pak border now wear an empty look, with over 50,000 villagers abandoning their homes to escape heavy shelling of mortar bombs. Migration was also complete in Arnia town and surrounding villages followed by RS Pura. However, only few people have left their houses in Ramgarh, Samba and Hiranagar sectors.
“Over 50,000 people have migrated from their hamlets and border towns in the wake of Pakistan shelling and take shelter with their kin and some of them have come to safe shelters set up by the Government”, sources said.
Several camps have been setup in Kathua, Samba and Jammu districts to house border migrants but the border dwellers say all these camps were without any facility with no food, water and power and they can only starve there in this scorching heat.
Located five kilometers from the International Border (IB), Arnia town, with a population of over 18,500, resembles a ghost town with only a few people and some cops left each in its adjoining hamlets to take care of animals and guard homes against thefts.
The life of border dwellers along International Border (IB) has been silenced as farming, schooling, cattle rearing and everything else on which border dwellers survive have come to a halt due to the shelling episodes.
Pakistan Rangers started shelling areas along the IB on May 15 and till now 12 people including 10 civilians and two jawans have been killed and over 50 people, including over 43 civilians, injured.
In retaliation, Pakistan has suffered heavy casualties and infrastructural damages.
Over 200 educational institutes continue to remain closed for the 5th consecutive day along the IB in Jammu, Samba, and Kathua districts by authorities in the wake of tension along the Indo-Pak border due to shelling.
Over 800 such incidents have been reported this year, which have left a total of 44 people, including 18 security personnel, dead and scores injured.