Arnia episode is the second ceasefire violation by Pakistan in 10 days

Pak. targets six BSF posts and civilian areas on Jammu border with mortars and machine guns; several houses damaged

Updated - October 27, 2023 08:55 pm IST

Published - October 27, 2023 08:04 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A house damaged in firing by the Pakistan Rangers, at Bhule Chak village in Arnia sector of Jammu on October 27, 2023.

A house damaged in firing by the Pakistan Rangers, at Bhule Chak village in Arnia sector of Jammu on October 27, 2023. | Photo Credit: AP

A day after border areas in Jammu’s Arnia witnessed heavy firing from Pakistan, officials said at least six posts of the Border Security Force (BSF) were targeted with mortars and machine guns.

A senior government official said they were analysing the reasons behind the current flare-up on the International Border (IB) – the second such incident in the past 10 days – but the cause remains inexplicable to them.  

The Pakistan border has largely remained silent since February 25, 2021, when the Directors-General of Military Operations (DGsMO) of India and Pakistan agreed to a “strict observance of all agreements, understandings and ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) and all other sectors.”

Thursday’s is the fifth incident of ceasefire violation reported along the International Border in 2023.

Before India and Pakistan agreed to the re-observance of the 2003 ceasefire agreement in February 2021, as many as 72 incidents of ceasefire violations were reported from the Jammu border, according to data available with The Hindu. In 2020, the number of such violations stood at 450, while in 2022, six such incidents were reported.

Civilian injured

A BSF statement said that around 8 p.m. on Thursday, the Pakistan Rangers resorted to unprovoked firing on the International Border in Jammu sector and the BSF retaliated the firing.

It added that around 9.15 p.m., the Pakistan Rangers fired mortar shells targeting the border outposts (BOPs) and civilian areas. Some of the shells landed in Arnia town, resulting in minor injuries to a civilian – Rajni Devi. The third spell of firing started around 10.40 p.m., when the Pakistan Rangers used heavy machine guns to target the BSF posts. The firing resumed around 1 a.m. on Friday and continued till 2.45 a.m. The walls of several houses were damaged in the firing. The immediate trigger for the incident was not known.

Villagers shifting to a safer place following unprovoked firing by the Pakistan Rangers along the International Border in Arnia area of Jammu district on October 27, 2023.

Villagers shifting to a safer place following unprovoked firing by the Pakistan Rangers along the International Border in Arnia area of Jammu district on October 27, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Harvest season

Rohit Sharma, a local resident, said this is the season to harvest the crops. “It is a question of our livelihood. Most people here are into farming activities. The fields are close to the zero line, if the shelling continues, we will not be able to harvest the crops,” Mr. Sharma said.

Giving out details of the October 17 incident when two BSF personnel were injured, the official said there was firing from the Pakistan side soon after a BSF jawan got down an electric pole after repairing it. The pole, right at the zero line on the border, had developed a snag. “As the jawan was returning, there was a volley of fire from the other side. The BOPs were targeted,” said the official. A day later, a flag meeting with the Pakistan Rangers was held where the latter denied that they fired at the Indian side.

“We are still trying to deliberate the reasons behind the shelling. Nothing is clear yet. It is definitely a violation of the 2021 ceasefire pact but we will wait and watch to ascertain if there is a pattern to it,” another government official said.

India’s 3,323-km border with Pakistan runs along one Union Territory and three States – Jammu and Kashmir (1,225 km that includes 740 km of Line of Control), Rajasthan (1,037 km), Punjab (553 km) and Gujarat (508 km). While the 740-km LoC, the effective border in Kashmir Valley and parts of Jammu, is under the operational control of the Army, the 192-km International Border (IB) in Jammu, which is a settled border, is manned by the BSF.

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