Four Pakistani civilians were killed in fresh ‘unprovoked firing and heavy shelling’ by India’s Border Security Force (BSF) in the Zafarwal and Shakargarh sectors along the Sialkot Working Boundary on Monday, the military said. The BSF is said to have suffered ‘heavy losses’ in the retaliatory fire from Pakistani troops.
The BSF resorted to ‘planned intense unprovoked’ firing and heavy shelling on civilian population in the villages of Sukhmall, Bheke Chak and Bhurey Chak, the military’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said in a statement.
At least four civilians, including a teenage boy and a woman, were killed in the Indian firing, it added. The two of the deceased were identified as Azeem, 18, from Bore Chak and Mrs Mubarak Ali from Sukhmall village.
“A total of four civilians (were martyred) this evening due to Indian BSF shelling on civilian population,” the ISPR said. “Pakistan Rangers are effectively responding to India’s (unprovoked) firing,” it added. There was no immediate reaction from the Indian government.
Earlier in the day, Indian police said that a BSF soldier was killed on Monday in a separate exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani forces along the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir.
“A BSF constable who was injured in the firing from Pakistan in the Hiranagar sector this [Monday] afternoon has died,” Rajesh Kumar, the police chief for the region said. He claimed that the Indian side retaliated after coming under fire from Pakistani rockets in the Samba sector, around 350 kilometres south of Srinagar.
However, according to sources there were reports that the BSF suffered ‘heavy losses’ in the retaliatory fire from Pakistani border guards.
This was the 6th ceasefire violation by Indian forces since December 31. Last week Pakistan summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner to lodge a strong protest over the killing of two Rangers personnel after calling them for a flag meeting on their side of the border.
PM’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz also wrote a letter to India’s external affairs minister demanding investigation and ‘exemplary punishment’ for those who were responsible for the latest incident along the working boundary.
However, the Indian government rejected the Pakistani allegations. In her written response to the letter sent by Aziz on Friday, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said, “We cannot accept any of the contentions made in your letter.” She claimed that a BSF patrol had come under fire from a Pakistani border post in the area, which had resulted in the death of an Indian soldier and serious injuries to another, and that had led to Indian troops opening ‘defensive fire’.
Earlier, Pakistan’s Chenab Rangers said two of its soldiers had been shot and wounded in the Zafarwal sector when they were invited for a flag meeting to discuss ceasefire violations and Indian firing had prevented medical care from reaching them.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2015.