The Ministry of External Affairs on Friday condemned the ceasefire violations by Pakistan after troops from the neighbouring country allegedly killed two civilians and a Border Security Force head constable. They allegedly violated the ceasefire late on Thursday.

Pakistani Rangers fired at Indian positions and villages in RS Pura and Arnia in Jammu district, Ramgarh and Ghagwal in Samba district and Rajbagh in Kathua, the Jammu and Kashmir Police told Twenty-four civilians and two BSF jawans were injured in the firing on Friday.

“You are aware that Pakistan violates the ceasefire as a cover so terrorists can infiltrate across the border into India,” IANS quoted Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar as saying. “We, of course, retaliate in such cases, and we also take up the matter at the appropriate level with the Pakistani side.”

Pakistani Rangers resumed shelling and firing on forward Indian positions along the international border at 6.45 am on Friday. Jagpal Singh of the BSF’s 173 Battalion died after splinters of a mortar shell injured him during the ceasefire violation on Thursday night.

The ministry also conveyed its “grave concerns” to Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah after summoning him and urged the country to adhere to the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding to maintain peace.

“More than a 100 such violations have been carried out by Pakistani forces along the LoC and international border in 2018,” it said. “It was conveyed to the concerned authorities in Pakistan that deliberate targeting of innocent civilians was against all established humanitarian norms and practices.

More than a thousand people who stay along the border were evacuated, and schools in RS Pura and Arnia have been closed. In Rajouri, schools will remain closed for the next three days, the deputy commissioner of the district, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, said.

The BSF has destroyed four Pakistani mortar positions and has inflicted loss of life and property across the border, BSF Director General KK Sharma told The Indian Express.

“We have seen ambulances moving at many places across the border opposite both these sectors,” the daily quoted unidentified officials as saying. A senior BSF official told The Indian Express that according to estimates, the “casualty across the border appears to be very high...somewhere between 20-25”.

‘A matter of great concern’

Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh criticised the ceasefire violations by Pakistan, and called it a terrorist state that only believes in violence. “It is very clear that India is not going to be fooled by all these cowardice of Pakistan.”

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the regular violation of ceasefire should be sorted out soon by New Delhi and Islamabad. “It is a matter of great concern that civilians are being targeted,” Abdullah told ANI. “There is regular breakdown of the ceasefire across the border and the Line of Control.”

On Monday, the Indian Army had said it had killed seven Pakistani soldiers and injured four in retaliatory strikes in forward areas along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district. Pakistan, however, pegged the toll at four.

An Indian soldier was killed during a reported ceasefire violation along the Line of Control in the Sunderbani sector on January 13. A head constable of the Border Security Force was killed under similar circumstances in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajpura area on January 3.

Police station in Pulwama attacked

Meanwhile, militants injured eight policemen in Pulwama in South Kashmir. They hurdled a hand grenade inside a tehsil office, Greater Kashmir reported.

The policemen are in a stable condition, and the 182 Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force has launched a search operation in the area to catch the militants.