Four Border Security Force (BSF) personnel, including an assistant commandant-rank officer, were killed and three others injured in firing by Pakistani Rangers along the International Border in Samba district, a senior BSF officer said today.
The BSF said that it had honoured the ceasefire agreed at a recent sector commander-level meeting but Pakistan resorted to unprovoked firing.
Eleven BSF troops have been killed in cross-border firing incidents along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir till date in 2018, the highest casualty figure for the border force in a year in the past five years, the latest data revealed.
"Since the ceasefire was on...it is the time we use to strengthen our defences. A team was going with defence material; Pakistan violated the ceasefire and fire at them with flat trajectory weapon followed by mortar firing. That is how the causality has taken place," Additional Director General (ADG) of BSF Western Command, K N Chaubey, told reporters here today.
Another team of the BSF led by Assistant commandant Jitender Singh rushed to evacuate them and a mortar fired from Pakistan's Asraf Post exploded close to them in Border Our Post (BoP) Chambiliyal, resulting in fatal causalities, they said.
The BSF ADG said that it was very unfortunate and "the ceasefire announcement made and agreed is to be honoured".
"We have honoured it and Pakistan has not honoured it. And what Pakistan does is Pakistan's business and how we respond to betrayal is our job," he said.
Asked whether the BSF will lodge a protest with Pakistan, he said, "Of course, it would." He asserted that it was premature to say about any involvement of Pakistan special force BAT in it.
"Pakistan Rangers initiated cross-border firing along the IB in Ramgarh sector last night. We have lost four of our personnel, including an assistant commandant-rank officer, while three of our personnel suffered injuries," Inspector General, BSF (Jammu Frontier) Ram Awtar told PTI.
In a tweet, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) SP Vaid expressed condolences.
"In Ramgarh Jammu sector of IB, 4 BSF personnel were martyred including one Asstt Commandant & 5 injured due to firing from across. Our heart goes to those who lost their dear ones," he said.
In a statement, the BSF said, "Around 2140 hours Pak Rangers Post Asraf started unprovoked firing on BOP Chamliyal with flat and high trajectory weapons.
"Retaliating this unprovoked fire, Jitender Singh, Assistant Commandant, SI Rajneesh, ASI Ramniwas, Constable Hansraj attained martyrdom. Three other bordermen received severe injuries. Injured BSF personnel have been evacuated to hospital," the statement said.
Assistant Commandant BSF Jitendra Singh, who was born in 1984, joined BSF in 2011 and hails from Jaipur (Rajasthan). Sub Inspector Rajneesh Kumar, who was born in 1986 and joined BSF in 2012 hails from Etah in UP.
The 1990 born Constable Hansraj Gurjar joined BSF in 2011 hailed from Alwar in Rajasthan and Assitant Sub Inspector Ramniwas, who was born in 1966 and joined BSF in 1988 also hailed from Sikar Rajasthan.
Jitendra is survived by his wife and a 3-year-old son and his family had only left him yesterday after staying with him for some time.
The firing from across the border in Chamliyal post area of Ramgarh sector started around 10.30 pm yesterday and continued till 4.30 am, a police official said, requesting anonymity. BSF troops also fired in retaliation, the official said.
This is the second major ceasefire violation along the IB this month and came despite Director General Military Operations (DGMO) of the two countries agreeing on May 29 to implement the ceasefire pact of 2003 in "letter and spirit".
On June 3, two BSF personnel, including an Assistant Sub-Inspector, were killed and 10 persons, mostly civilians, injured in heavy shelling and firing by Pakistan Rangers along the IB in Pragwal, Kanachak and Khour sectors.
The latest casualties take the number of those killed in ceasefire violation by Pakistan along the IB and the Line of Control (LoC) this year to 51, including 25 security personnel. There has been over 1,200 incidents of ceasefire violation.
On May 29, the DGMOs of India and Pakistan agreed to "fully implement" the ceasefire pact of 2003 in "letter and spirit" forthwith to stop border skirmishes in J&K.
Last month, thousands of people residing along the IB in Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts had to flee their homes following intense shelling from Pakistan between May 15 and May 23 which left 12 people dead, including two BSF jawans and an infant, and scores of others injured.
After the DGMOs of the two countries spoke to each other, hope rekindled among border residents who had started returning to their homes but the latest incident triggered fresh concerns among them.
On June 4, the border-guarding forces of India and Pakistan met at the Octroi post here and held a 15-minute meeting during which both sides decided to "develop confidence" between them.
The Pakistani side gave an assurance that they would not initiate any cross-border firing and the BSF reciprocated by saying that it would only retaliate when provoked.
Chamlayal area along the International Border in Ramgarh often remains a peaceful zone because of revered Ziyarat of Baba Chamlayal and on June 28, a mela is going to be organized at this place.
This mela popularly known as Chamlayal Mela is attended by the Pak Rangers, Sialkot Administration and civilians as well as BSF and district administration of Samba as a routine every year since decades.
However, the peace was breached last night at 10:15 pm, when a BSF patrolling team was moving between Narayanpur post to Chamlayal.