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CM calls for ‘positive response’ to ceasefire by all sides

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Visits border shelling hit families in R S Pura

Jammu, May 21: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today visited R S Pura and condoled with the families whose kin were killed in cross-border shelling at Arnia and R S Pura during past few days.

Interacting with the people there, the Chief Minister described the killings as highly unfortunate adding these occurred when the holy month of Ramazan had just begun and people had heaved sigh of relief due to the Centre’s welcome step of halting security operations in the state.

Mehbooba Mufti, according to an official press release, said the people of the state, who have gone through very tough times in the past, want to live a peaceful life free from violence and killings. She said the Centre’s move of halting security operations has generated a hope among people who expect positive reciprocation to it by all stakeholders to let people of the state come out of the zero-sum game of killings and uncertainty.

The Chief Minister said world-over people are coming to peaceful engagement of issues as acrimony and violence has led them nowhere except deaths, destruction and devastation.

She said the way North and South Korea decided to walk on peaceful engagement is an encouraging signal to the entire world that issues, no matter how complex these might be, can only be settled through negotiations peacefully as violence only kills, both humans and their spirits as well.

On the occasion, the Chief Minister disbursed cash assistance of Rs one lakh each among the families whose kin were killed in the cross-border shelling of past few days. This assistance is over and above the ex-gratia relief already paid to them through Jammu divisional administration.

She also directed the administration to prepare a report of the damages suffered to houses and dwelling units during the border shelling.

Mehbooba Mufti also conveyed her heartfelt sympathies with the bereaved families and prayed for peace to the departed souls.

Deputy Chief Minister, Kavinder Gupta; Minister for PHE, Irrigation & Flood Control, Shyam Choudhary; MLA, Gagan Bhagat; Vice Chairman SC Board, Bhushan Dogra; Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Hemant Sharma; IGP, Jammu zone, Dr. SDS Jamwal and officers of Divisional and District administration were present on the occasion.

Infant killed, 6 injured in cross-border firing in Jammu

Jammu: Pakistani troops targeted border outposts and villages with mortar shells and small arms in Jammu district today, killing an eight-month-old boy and injuring six including a special police officer, officials said.

Firing from across the border took place in several areas along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB), drawing retaliation from the Indian troops, the officials said.

Eight-month-old Nitin Kumar, sleeping with his family outside their home in Pallanwala sector along the LoC, was killed in Pakistani firing, while six people including the special police officer (SPO) were injured in Pakistani shelling in Arnia sector along the IB.

Today’s firing came two days after four civilians and a BSF trooper were killed in firing by Pakistani troops in Jammu district.

According to the BSF, “Pakistani troops started mortar shelling in civilian areas in Arnia sector around 0700 hours. Border Out Posts (BoPs) of Vikram, Chinaz and Jabowal were hit by Pakistani shelling.”

BSF troops guarding the border retaliated and the heavy exchange of fire between the two sides stopped around 1400 hours, a BSF officer said.

“Pakistan Rangers rained mortar shells on Arnia town. A mortar shell landed at a police station, damaging its wall and some parked vehicles. It also killed a special police officer (SPO),” officials said.

The heavy firing triggered panic among locals. Many of them fled from home and took shelter in camps set up by the government.

According to the officials, the intense Pakistani shelling started a day after it “pleaded” with the BSF to stop firing, after being pounded with heavy artillery that left a Pakistani trooper dead.

In the firing by Pakistani troops along the LoC in Pallanwala sector in Jammu district, eight-month-old Nitin Kumar was killed in Sherpalai hamlet, a police officer said.

All schools within five kilometres of the border have been closed as a precautionary measure, he said.

Meanwhile, the schools along a section of the International Border (IB) were today closed down by authorities due to firing and shelling, officials said.

“The schools along the IB in Jammu, Samba and Kathua were closed because of the firing and shelling by the Pakistani troops,” divisional level officials said.

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