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Shelling-proof bunkers to protect civilians in Jammu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is constructing underground bunkers in the border villages of Jammu as a life saving measure for the civilians to duck the Pakistani shelling.The move comes amid Pakistani forces’ new tactics of shelling in the civilian areas to instill fear among the local population. More than 12 civilians have been killed and over 80 others have been injured in Pakistani firing and shelling on the border villages in the Jammu division since the Indian army carried out surgical strikes on the terror launch pads in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir on September 29. Around 18 soldiers have also been killed by Pakistan army and Rangers along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir since surgical strikes.More than 87 critical villages have been identified along the LoC and the IB in Jammu district where the government has put the construction of the shelling-proof underground bunkers on fast track.”All the 87 critical villages have been given at least one bunker. We need at least five bunkers in one critical village. In the second round two more bunkers will be given to each critical village”, Simrandeep Singh, district development commissioner, Jammu, told DNA.Constructed at the cost of Rs 4.5 crore under two different government projects, the underground bunkers are being built in such a manner that those could withstand the shells and mortars fired by Pakistani forces.”These are shelling proof bunkers constructed inside the villages. They have double RCC slab which is covered with lot of earth. Each bunker can accommodate 20 people. During the recent cross border shelling 80 people had taken shelter in one bunker,” said Singh.Jammu and Kashmir government has set January 20 deadline for the completion of the bunkers in the first phase. “Around 97 bunkers are to be constructed under two projects, of which 80 have been completed so far. Rest of the 17 bunkers will be completed by January 20”, said Singh.Figures reveal that there are 35,000 to 40,000 people living in the villages which are the worst affected by the shelling from Pakistan. “During shelling, some of the villagers flee their homes for safety. However, some stay back to look after their cattle and other property. Those who stay back can use these bunkers. It is a safety measure because their houses may not be shelling proof”, he said.

At least four killed in India-Pakistan cross-border shelling | Reuters

At least four killed in India-Pakistan cross-border shelling | Reuters

Updated: Oct 24, 2016 19:11 IST


By Asad Hashim and Fayaz Bukhari

ISLAMABAD/SRINAGAR, India Shelling across the border between India and Pakistan killed two Pakistani civilians, an Indian soldier and a boy, military officials from the two sides said on Monday, as tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours simmers.Pakistan’s military said the shelling hit the sectors of Harpal, Pukhlian and Charwah along the disputed “working boundary”, which separates Pakistan’s Punjab province from Indian-administered Kashmir’s Jammu region.India’s military said the firing occurred in the Pura, Pargwal and Kanachak sectors.Both countries have claimed the disputed Kashmir region in full since partition and independence from the British in 1947, but administer separate portions of it. They have fought two of their three wars over the territory.

Tensions have been strained since July, when Indian forces killed a young Kashmiri fighter, prompting mass protests in Indian-administered Kashmir. The resulting crackdown by security forces has seen at least 80 Kashmiri protesters killed.Relations plummeted even further in September, when gunmen stormed an Indian military base in Uri, killing 18 Indian soldiers, the largest such attack in 14 years.

India blamed Pakistan for the attack, and in response said it had launched “surgical strikes” across the de facto border in Kashmir on Sept 29 to target Kashmiri fighters based there. Pakistan denied any incursion had occurred on its territory. Pakistan’s military said a one-year-old child was among the dead in Pakistan in the village of Janglora. Pakistani forces responded to the Indian firing and an exchange of fire continued through the night.

Fifteen civilians were wounded in the firing, Pakistan said.In India’s Jammu region, a Border Security Force (BSF) soldier was killed by the Pakistani firing, while another was wounded, a BSF spokesman told Reuters. A boy, one of five civilians also injured, later died of his wounds, he said. (Writing by Asad Hashim; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Toby Chopra)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Jammu and Kashmir: Life in bunkers for locals who depend on them during shelling

If you enter the house of Naresh Kumar, it will be a while before you notice the entrance to an underground bunker. Deep under the courtyard, Kumar’a father built a six-by-ten feet tall bunker which can accommodate more than 25 people in standing posture.

When the village of Abdullian is shelled and fired upon from three sides by Pakistani rangers in RS Pura sector on the working International Border (IB) between India and Pakistan, this bunker is their last hope of survival.

“Whenever there is a firing, we all rush to this bunker because fence is just behind us and Pakistani posts can be seen from our rooftop. It is frightening but this room is safe and we can survive mortars here,” Kumar, 17, told Firstpost.

Kumar’s father, Avtar Singh, built this bunker out of his own money after shells started landing in the area almost every day last year and the government failed to build one, despite making promises.

Naresh Kumar, with his family members inside the underground inside their house. Firstpost/Sameer YasirNaresh Kumar, with his family members inside the underground inside their house. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

Naresh Kumar, with his family members inside the underground inside their house. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

On 28 August last year, a date which every villager remembers, Abdullian was heavily shelled from three sides by Pakistani rangers. One of the shells landed on the next door neighbour’s house, killing his son and injuring many others.

Before Singh returned to his village after living for months in a filthy migrant camp, 25 kilometres from here, he immediately started construction of this bunker.

A ten feet tall pitch-dark room supported by four stonewalls and a thick concrete pillar in the centre, the bunker is protected by seven feet thick ceiling made of concrete and covered with clay. For ventilation, there are two small openings in the ceiling and three lamps to lighten up the room. Not an engineering marvel but it took almost Rs one lakh to build it.

Since the day India claimed to have carried out surgical strikes along the LoC, Amitabh Chaudhry has been camping in Singh’s home, refusing to live in his house. He stays in the room located closest to the bunker, ready to jump into the bunker anytime.

Old bunkers along the IB. Firstpost/Sameer YasirOld bunkers along the IB. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

Old bunkers along the IB. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

“Our neighbour’s arm was amputated and his son was killed when shell landed on his house last year. I don’t want to get killed,” Chaudhry, 15, told Firstpost, pointing to a Pakistani bunker from Singh’s rooftop which is distinctly visible to naked eye.

After shelling intensified between the two armies last year, the then Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, told the state assembly that over 20,000 bunkers will be built along the Line of Control and International Border for the safety of residents living in border areas in Jammu region.

Sayeed, who passed away earlier this year, said his government had sent a proposal to union home ministry for the construction of 20,125 community-type bunkers at various places in Jammu division for people living near the border. The cost of constructing the bunkers was expected to be over Rs 1,000 crore.

But those bunkers are yet to be constructed, making thousands of villagers vulnerable during cross border skirmishes. The Indian army constructed hundreds of bunkers in 1971 war along the LoC and International border which are still used by villagers during the time of crisis.

A file image of people inside the bunkers Image Courtesy: FacebookA file image of people inside the bunkers Image Courtesy: Facebook

A file image of people inside the bunkers Image Courtesy: Facebook

However, villagers say these bunkers can’t withstand the attack of an 88 mm mortar shell.  Chamail Singh, a resident of Abdullian village, said the old bunkers can’t be trusted when you are fired from three sides.

“Whenever firing takes place, we go inside them. If we don’t get a chance, we just sit in someone’s house and hope that it will pass soon. The government has come up with a single bunker in the village for 100 households. There is not enough space for so many people,” Singh, who served in the Indian Army, said.

For combat reasons, these bunkers face the Pakistani side, but when the shelling takes place from three directions, they become vulnerable. The walls of these bunkers are crumbling and whenever tensions escalate, villagers cover them with sand bags from four sides and spend night in cramped spaces.

The BJP’s Parliamentarian, Jugal Kishore Sharma, admits there should be more bunkers. He says people have been demanding more such facilities whenever he visits the border areas.

“Bunkers are being constructed and there are few already in Arneia, Bishna and Suchetgarh, but they are used only in immediate circumstances when villages are shelled and people have to move from their houses,” Sharma says.

“But people can’t stay in these bunkers for ever. These can be used for one night. For that purpose, bunkers have been made and some are being built these days,” he added.

A bunker constructed in more tha 30 years ago in Abdullian by Indian army villagers use it during shelling cover them with sand bags.  Firstpost/Sameer YasirA bunker constructed in more tha 30 years ago in Abdullian by Indian army villagers use it during shelling cover them with sand bags.  Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

A bunker constructed in more tha 30 years ago in Abdullian by Indian army villagers use it during shelling cover them with sand bags. Firstpost/Sameer Yasir

Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Pawan Kotwal, who has been monitoring the situation said the Central government has mooted a pilot project for the construction of underground bunkers but it is still incomplete.

“The Centre has already approved a project of Rs 60 lakhs as a pilot project to set up underground bunkers in Jammu. Presently there are no bunkers in Poonch region and I am sure if more bunkers are constructed, they would save lives,” Kotwal said.

In Malta area of Poonch district along the LoC, Suhail Ahmad’s house was destroyed by the shelling last Friday. Firing has been taking place intermittently after the ‘surgical strikes’, “We requested the government to build bunkers in the area but our pleas fall on deaf ears,” he says.

Ahmad refused to migrate after cross border tensions escalated and whenever firing takes place, he rushes into a cave like bunker dug into the gentle slope of a mountain near his home.

In 1998, after a particularly difficult phase of cross-border shelling, the Jammu and Kashmir government provided funding to residents of border villages and helped them build 6,000 bunkers, like the one Ahmad lives in, to protect themselves.

However, most of those bunkers were destroyed in 2005 earthquake, which struck northern Pakistan and the Kashmir region. “These bunkers were our only hope of survival. With them gone, we have turned into shooting targets for Pakistani forces,” he said.

Pak shelling leaves trail of destruction on LoC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stepping up their offensive, Pakistan Army shelled a strategic fuel depot of the security forces, leaving a trail of destruction along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Saujian sector of Poonch district in Jammu division.More than 20 shops were razed to ground after massive fire engulfed the Saujian village when Pakistan shells landed in the fuel depot, which is used for supplying oil to the forward posts of the security forces stationed on the Line of Control.”Almost 20 shops and two bikes were gutted in the fire. A car has also suffered some damages in the firing. It is a place where the fuel barrels are kept for their onward movement to the forward posts. The incident happened 48 hours ago when cross border shelling took place in Saujiyan and Shahpur sectors,” Mohammad Harun Malik, district development commissioner of Poonch, told dna.Malik said they are currently assessing the losses caused to the property due to the cross border shelling. “Loss statement has not been made. I had personally gone for the inspection of the affected area of Saujian today.Wooden works and roofs of the shops have been gutted completely but the walls are intact,” he said.Pakistani army has opened few more fronts and extended shelling to newer areas in Mendhar and Sunderbani sectors of the LoC. “Ceasefire violations in Sunderbani and Mendhar sectors are being strongly retaliated by our forces,” said an army officer.Lieutenant Colonel Manish Mehta, defence spokesman at Jammu, said Pakistan started to unprovoked cease fire violations in Krishna Ghati sector from 5 pm on Tuesday using arms, automatics and mortars.”Firing stopped at Krishna Ghati sector 8 pm but intermittently continues in Naushera sector. Firing is being appropriately responded by own troops,” he said.Deputy inspector general of police, Rajouri-Poonch range, Johnny Williams told dna that the authorities have evacuated few civilians from some areas in Naushera sector of LoC following the shelling.”We had to do evacuation in the wake of shelling. Around 50 to 60 people were evacuated. Basically the shelling is from post to post,” he said.Pakistan has also opened another front in Macchal sector by resorting to heavy shelling on Indian forward posts on Wednesday. “Ceasefire Violation in Machhal Sector by Pakistan is being strongly retaliated,” tweeted Northern Command of the Indian army.Hundreds of families have shifted to safer places after Pakistani army intensified the shelling since the Indian army carried out surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir last week.Meanwhile, police in its continuous and sustained drive against the trouble mongers arrested 76 people involved in various offences of disturbing public order in different parts of the valley

Ceasefire violation across LoC, fear grips villagers; India, Pakistan blame each other

The shelling across the Line-of-Control between India and Pakistan began at midnight and continued till the wee hours of the morning on Sunday.The Indian defence spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Manish Mehta, said the shelling began from the Pakistani side without any provocation from the Indian side.”Pakistan troops intermittently fired small arms, automatics and mortars. Our troops retaliated appropriately with equal calibre weapons. No casualties/damage was reported till last reports came in,” he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The shelling took place on the Indian forward posts in Shahpur village of the Poonch sub-sector of Jammu division.District development commissioner of Poonch Mohommad Haroon told dna that a residential house and a car was damaged when a Pakistani shell exploded in Shahpur village.”Fear has gripped the villagers since the cross border shelling has occurred after a long time. It was unexpected which also added to the panic. We hope that the shelling will not occur again,” said HaroonOfficial figures reveal around 405 incidents of cross-border firing have taken place along the Indo-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir in 2015 killing 16 civilians. Of which 253 incidents of cross border firing have taken place along the International Border and 152 incidents along the Line of Control.At least 16 civilians were killed 71 others were injured in the cross border firing and shelling. Around 72 houses were damaged due to border shelling along the border last year. As many as 7,110 people were temporarily affected due to ceasefire violation in Jammu and Kashmir from January 1 to November 2015.The cease-fire on borders came into force on November 26, 2003 when the then Pakistani premier Zafarullah Khan Jamali announced unilateral truce on all the three frontiers – 772km Line of Control (LoC), 192kmInternational Border (IB) and 122km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) at Siachen glacier — as a goodwill gesture. New Delhi also responded positively and since then both armies decided to hold fire.The ceasefire comes after a break of seven months. Army sources said for the first three years, the ceasefire was more or less observed in letter and spirit by both the countries. Pakistan, however, started showing its true colours in 2006 when it started firing on Indian positions occasionally. Around 15 Indian security personnel were killed in the ceasefire violations from 2009 to August 2012.The fresh ceasefire violation comes three days after Pakistan suspended the dialogue process with India. “There is no meeting scheduled for now. I think at present the peace process is suspended,” Pakistan high commissioner to India Abdul Basit said on Thursday.Meanwhile, while Pakistan High Comissision in Delhi refused to react. But sent a statement issued by Pakistan Army’s Inter-Services Public Relations in Rawalpindi, blaming India for shelling.According to the ISPR, the heavy shelling in Neza Pir sector started at 11.40 pm on Saturday, continuing for hours and lasting until almost 5am early Sunday morning.”Pakistan Army troops befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing and shelling,” the ISPR statement said.

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