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Living in the shadow of death: People flee border hamlet due to Pak firing

Pakistani troops have been targeting border outposts and hamlets closed to the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir, triggering panic among residents

Agencies  |  Jammu 

Pakistan ceasefire
Villagers take shelter under a community bunker during alleged shelling from the Pakistani side of the border, at Arnia village, in Jammu, on Tuesday.

At least five people in a village in Jammu and Kashmir's Samba district were injured in Pakistani shelling on Tuesday evening, taking to 13 the number of injured in the violations in the day, an official said. today rained down mortars on the "hamlet of Gujjar milkmen", located around 400 metres from the border.

According to the official, the five were residents of Kesoo village in Ramgarh sector of Samba. At least eight civilians sustained injuries in shelling in R S Pura and Arnia sectors of Jammu and Samba districts respectively earlier on Tuesday, police said.

The metallic smell of gunpowder lingered in the air and thick clouds of smoke belched from the charred houses in the Jorafarm hamlet, razed to the ground in the relentless firing by before residents could have their Sehri - pre-dawn Ramzan meal.

"What Sehri? We are alive because we fled our homes in the dark. When it was time for Sehri, we watched our hamlet being torn down by Pakistan," Jallan Din Gujjar, a resident of Jorafarm said.

The shells blew their kullas (mud houses) to smithereens, turning the hamlet into a huge heap of debris, said one of the residents.

Pakistan ceasefire, Jammu & Kashmir

A damaged house after alleged shelling from the Pakistani side of the border at Jora Farm village, near Jammu, on Tuesday.

Din, who returned to the hamlet in the R S Pura sector to rescue his horses, said the border dwellers "live in the shadow of death".

"We are lucky to have escaped the brutality. We have taken refuge in a government building at some distance from the hamlet," another resident said.

Pakistani troops have been targeting border outposts and hamlets closed to the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir, triggering panic among residents.

A large number of people have fled their homes due to the shelling along the IB in the Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts.

More than 100 families reside in the Jorafarm hamlet, which is famous for its milk products.

This is the fourth time Jorafarm has borne the brunt of Pakistani shelling in recent years.

On January 20 this year, hundreds of kullas were ravaged and a huge number of bovines killed in Jorafarm in firing by Pakistan.

At least six people were injured and more than 30 mud houses destroyed in another incident of cross-border firing in September, 2017.

Mohammad Akram and his two-year-old son were killed in Jorafarm in Pakistan shelling in 2014.

Shelling and firing are now the norm for the Gujjars of this border hamlet. Year after year they painstakingly build their mud-and-grass houses only to be reduced to rubble.

Blood-splattered compounds, smashed window panes and demolished roofs are all that are left of houses in border hamlets in the Arnia and R S Pura sectors.

Farmlands have craters due to mortar bombs and have turned into live minefields.

First Published: Tue, May 22 2018. 23:37 IST