SRINAGAR: As the four soldiers including a Major rank officer who was killed on the Line of Control in Rajouri’s Keri sector were flown to their respective homes on Sunday, the border belt in neighbouring Poonch is witnessing a massive fire exchange. No casualty was reported, however, from the Shahpur sub-sector.
The four killings were the outcome of a sudden escalation of tensions between the rival armies at a time when the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was in town as part of her outreach programme.
“The incident is suspected to be the handiwork of the Pakistan army border action team (BAT) and not the routine LoC firing. Though technically classified as a violation of the ceasefire agreement of 2003, sources said the activity was more like a BAT action,” Chandigarh newspaper Tribune reported. “Killing four trained soldiers in a single strike is rare during a violation of the ceasefire. It is being suspected that Pakistan army troops crossed the Line of Control and ambushed this group of the Indian Army, indicating a BAT action.” It said the fencing is several hundred metres inside the LoC.
After an impressive wreath laying function at Udhampur, the headquarters of the Army’s Northern Command, the coffin of the four soldiers was flown home, a defence spokesman in Jammu said. Lt Gen D Anbu, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Northern Command, led the wreath laying and was attended by various other ranks and politicians.
Reports reaching here said that the two armies .resumed shelling on each other’s positions in Poonch area in the afternoon on Sunday. The shelling ebbed later.
On Saturday, four soldiers were killed in Rajouri district in Brat Kala belt of Keri sector. These included Major Prafulla Ambadas Moharkar, Lance Naik Gurmail Singh, Lance Naik Kuldeep Singh and Sepoy Pargat Singh. One of the five personnel who was injured in the attack is still in the hospital, official reports suggest.
Major Prafulla Ambadas Moharkar (32), according to official sources, is a resident of Paoni in Bhandara (Maharashtra). He is survived by his wife Aboli Moharkar.
The three other slain soldiers belonged to Punjab. Lance Naik Gurmail Singh, was a resident of Amritsar and is survived by wife Kuljit Kaur and a daughter.
Pargat Singh was a resident of Karnal district and is survived by wife Ramanpreet Kaur and a son, defence sources said. Not many details are available about Lance Naik Kuldeep Singh.
As the army conveyed the death of the soldiers to their families, the instant mourning’s started in their respective homes. “The family was totally dependent on Gurmail as he was the sole breadwinner,” his teary-eyed father, Tarsem Singh, 65, told Hindustan Times. Gurmail, according to the newspaper was living in Alkara village and was serving the army for last 15 years.
The newspaper quoted Gurmail’s widow Kuljit Kaur saying: “We have agricultural land, but it is not too large. By and large, our family was dependent on Gurmail’s salary. We are constructing a new house and all the expenses were being borne by him. His demise has left the whole family devastated.”
Defence sources said that the tensions between the rival armies peaked in 2017. Frequent shelling on each other’s positions has led to the killing of 33 people, including 12 civilians, this year, so far. Defence sources said the ceasefire violations by Pakistan peak to an all-time high of 700 plus which is many times more than 228 violations reported in 2016.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh today said the sacrifices rendered by valiant Army officers and soldiers would be remembered forever and would be recorded in the annals of history so that the young generation to and posterity get the requisite inspiration to serve the cause of the nation.
The Deputy Chief Minister was speaking during the wreath-laying ceremony held in honour of the Army Major and soldiers martyred in cross-border firing in the Rajouri district the other day. Speaker Legislative Assembly, Mr Kavinder Gupta, Ministers Naeem Akhtar, Chowdhary Zulfikar, Sham Chowdhary, Priya Sethi, Asiea Naqash
DG Police, Dr SP Vaid, senior officers of Army and air force, IGP Jammu, DC Jammu and other senior officers of police and civil Administration also paid homage to the slain soldiers.