Along the 786 km-long Line of Control (LoC) which divides the State of Jammu Kashmir between India and Pakistan, sporadic cross-border military gunfire between both countries is not that unusual.
However, this weekend, in the region of Noushera, Rajouri and Akhnoor sectors of Jammu and Kashmir, more than 40,000 Indians have fled their homes and shops amid the fourth consecutive day of intense shelling from Pakistani military forces, the Economic Times reports.
In the latest report from Indian 24 News, cross-border firing between both countries continues along the international border in the Kanachak and Pargwal sectors in Jammu, besides the LoC in the Nowshera area of Rajouri district on Sunday evening.
The number of people killed on the Indian side this month has risen to 13 including three armymen, three BSF personnel and seven civilians. The toll is almost as high as number of causalities on the Indian side in the entire of 2017, when nearly a dozen people including security personnel were killed on the entire border from Kathua to Poonch district. In most of the villages, almost entire populations have shifted to safer places fearing an escalation of firing along the border. Sources said that most of the people had shifted to their relatives’ homes.
Arnia, a border town in the Jammu district in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, India, with a population of 18,000, is now deserted as the intense shelling from Pakistan drove residents to safer grounds.
The Economic Times describes a first-hand account of the chaos in Arnia, as 80-year-old Yashpal and his family huddled in their house until two mortar shells damaged it.
“It had happened during the 1965 and the 1971 wars. Such large number of mortar bombs had not since fallen in Arnia,” Yashpal said.
Sub Divisional Police Officer (SDPO), R S Pura, Surinder Choudhary stated, “Arnia town has been vacated. We have evacuated large number of people from Arnia and border hamlets…Most of hamlets are now vacated.”
Choudhary, who coordinated the evacuation of the border towns from R S Pura and Arnia sectors, said homes and livestock had experienced the brunt of the damage from Pakistani shelling.
Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Kumar Rajeev Ranjan said a total of 58 villages in Arnia and Suchetgarh sectors of Jammu district had been affected by the military clashes.
“Over 36,000 border dwellers have migrated from their homes”, Ranjan said, and he added that 131 animals have perished, 93 injured, and widespread damage to structures.
Today was with my people and Spent the day at #Arnia where Pak shelling,later 2-3 hours long traffic jam at NH44A,people blocked the #road Kathua @JmuKmrPolice Bullet proof vehicle at arnia and closed market and Kila somewhere border road Dayalechack pic.twitter.com/w64pgjs29m— Pankaj Khajuria (@KhajuriaPKJ21) January 21, 2018
An unidentified Indian journalist reports on the frontlines, as Indian troops return fire into Pakistan using mortars.
A local Indian media outlet shows the death and destruction erupting on the LoC.
India: "One soldier and four civilians were killed on Saturday in Pakistani shelling and firing along the Line of Control and the International Border while one soldier and one Border Security Force trooper and two civilians were killed on Friday," police forces said .20-01-2018 pic.twitter.com/5g470PGa0y— Rowan Van Dijk (@Lastkombo) January 20, 2018
While the world focuses on the Korean Peninsula for the potential outbreak of World War III, many should redirect their attention to the LoC between the Indian–Pakistan border, as this latest flare-up in military clashes between two nuclear states could spiral out of control.