Exodus from border villages

SAMBA (Jammu), DEC. 27. For the first time since the last five days, the Pakistan Army lowered the intensity of firing and shelling last night, but it could not prevent the exodus from border hamlets with migration figures crossing the 7,000 mark, official sources said.

``From 14,000-16,000 rounds of daily firing and 180- 190 mortar shells and rockets fired everyday for the last five days along the international border (IB) and the Line of Control (LoC), the intensity has gone down to 3,000-4,000 rounds and 20 to 30 shells,'' a senior Army officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

No shelling had taken place since last night and the firing intensity was low, he said, adding ``the reason behind this drastic change is not known.''

``There is fear in the air - the fear of another round of mortar shelling and rocket attacks on the border villages along the IB by the Pakistan Army. As a result of which migration continues unabated,'' sources said.

Migration continued today from the villages in Londi- Hiranagar and Phadadpur-Samba areas to safer places. People were carrying their movable properties to Samba and Hiranagar towns.

The migrants have been lodged in Government buildings and are being provided free ration. ``We want to save ourselves from the Pakistan Army, which can again resort to shelling and destroy our villages and kill us,'' Mr. Ram Sharan who has moved here from Phadpur, said.

It was for the first time since the 1971 war that such big shells were fired by the Pakistan Army in Gallar and Londi villages, he added.