Ahead of Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s visit to Jammu — even as intense shelling by Pakistan on Sunday night spread panic among residents of several villages along the Line of Control and forced several families to flee to safer places — Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday asked the Centre to get tough with militants as well as Pakistani troops to stop the fresh spell of devastation.

“Our forces have the best of the competency to respond to the aggression. If they do not retaliate with an equal measure of aggression, it’s not for weakness. Their concern for the innocent civilian population across the border holds them back. Obviously, Government of India will have to use tough options if the ceasefire violation does not stop,” Mr. Abdullah asserted while speaking at Police Martyrs Commemoration Day at Zewan.

He said that shelling by Pakistani forces had marred education, agriculture, economic activities and endangered lives.

Mr. Abdullah said it was disappointing that even after last month’s meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani troops had not stopped violating the ceasefire. Even the meeting of the Directors General of Military Operations of the two countries, “that was the only substantive outcome of that meeting,” had not taken place, he said.

Official sources in Jammu told The Hindu that the month’s fiercest shelling occurred on Sunday night when the Pakistani troops used small arms fire, rockets and mortars at 25 spots in Kathua, Hiranagar, Samba, Pargwal, Kana Chak, Arnia, RS Pora and Akhnoor. Shells exploded in residential areas and at least one missile remained unexploded at Pargwal. However, there was no major damage to life or property.