Jammu: India and Pakistan exchanged heavy mortar and gun fire along the international border with Pakistani troops targeting over 130 villages and 60 Border Out Posts overnight in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts, leaving 12 people including three BSF jawans injured.
The firing and shelling continued intermittently during the day till 1100 hours in Pargwal, Kanachak, Arnia and Ramgarh sub-sectors, officials said.
Pakistan Rangers shelled almost the entire 192-km border during the night. Nearly 30,000 people have been displaced following one of the worst violations of the 2003 ceasefire by Pakistan which has left eight people dead and 80 others, including nine security men, injured since October 1.
People from 113 border hamlets have migrated leaving the hamlets deserted.
"Pakistani Rangers continued with unprovoked mortar shelling and heavy automatic weapon firing on BSF posts all along International Border (IB) since 2045 hours last night," a BSF spokesman said today.
"Almost the whole stretch of International Border in Samba, Hiranagar, Ramgarh, Arnia, R S Pura, Kanachak and Pargwal (Sub-sectors) was affected in the firing," he said.
"About 60 BSF border outposts were affected by the fire from Pakistan side," the spokesman said, adding BSF troops retaliated in a "calibrated manner".
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said the defence forces were giving a "befitting" reply to the Pakistani onslaught and the country will not bow down before anyone.
"I want to assure the people that we will not let down our country," he said, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that "everything will be fine soon".
"The Prime Minister is keeping a close eye on the situation. He does not need to speak as our Army and BSF personnel are giving a befitting response and we are satisfied with it," Singh said amid questions being raised by the Opposition on Government's response to the ceasefire violations by Pakistan.
According to officials, over 130 border villages have been hit by mortar shelling and firing by Pakistan since last night. Of these 57 hamlets were hit in Kathua district, over 50 in Jammu and 20 in Samba district, they said.
"Twelve people including 3 BSF jawans were injured in shelling and firing," District Magistrate, Jammu, Ajeet Kumar Sahu told PTI.
Four of the civilians were injured in Kanachak belt, two in Samba, two in Chadka and 3 BSF jawans in Pindi and one in other place.
However, the guns were silent along Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district.
Over 30,000 people have been evacuated from border hamlets along IB in Jammu, Kathua and Samba to safer places in view of the shelling, the DM said, adding that relief camps have been set up for them.
"Over 20,000 people have migrated from border hamlets in Jammu," Sahu said. In Kathua and Samba, over 7,000 and 3,000 border people have migrated, officials said.
As per the District officials border people from 113 hamlet located close to the IB in Jammu, Samba and Kathua had migrated and taken refugee either at shelter camps or with their relatives.
"As many as over 50 border hamlets and Arnia town along IB in Jammu district is now fully or partially deserted. People have migrated from these villages," Sahu said.
Like him, District Magistrate of Samba, Mubarak Singh said that people from over 20 border hamlets along IB in Samba have shifted, thereby, deserting the villages.
As District Magistrate of Kathua, Shahid Iqbal people from 43 border villages have been shifted in view of heavy shelling across IB in Hiranagar sector.
Jammu and Kashmir Government has set up 24 camps to accommodate evacuees from the border areas, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Shantu Manu said.
"Crisis management groups has been activated in the borderline from Poonch to Kathua district," IGP Jammu Rajesh Kumar said.
He said that one each group will be deployed in all these places along the border to evacuate people and provide them food and shelter.
"All civilian departments besides Police are part of this group which undertake evacuation in emergency situation," he added.