In the first major ceasefire violation after India's Border Security Force and the Pakistan Rangers, at their director general level talks, agreed to maintain peace along the border in September (See: Pakistan Rangers team in Delhi, peace talks begin), the Rangers opened unprovoked mortar shelling, killing a labourer and injuring three others at two places in the Samba sector since Friday evening.
Pointing out that it has been the first time that mortar shells fell just three km short of Samba railway station causing widespread damage in Mawa village, sources said that trouble started when Rangers from across the international border suddenly resorted to small arms fire targeting labourers repairing the barbed wire fence in Mangu Chak area around 5 pm on Friday.
Three labourers were injured and one of them later succumbed to injuries. The deceased has been identified as Raj Kumar of Chhattisgarh and the injured as Baldev Singh of Ferozepur in Punjab and Bhagwat Prashad of Chhattisgarh.
The firing stopped at around 5.40 pm, but re-started at Mangu Chak, Kheora, Chalyarian, Chak Durma and Regal at 8.25 pm, prompting immediate retaliation by the BSF.
The Rangers also fired mortar shells at forward Indian posts along the international border. A civilian was injured, while three bovine animals were killed and two matadors damaged at village Mawa. A number of houses there also sustained damage.
Official sources said that nine BSF posts were affected in firing by Rangers who used even 81,82 and 51 mm mortars.
The BSF retaliated and the exchange of fire continued till 2.20 am. The provocation to Rangers, the sources said, appears to be ongoing repair of barbed wire fence damaged on the Indian side during recent rains and floods along the border.
Though the barbed wire fence is deep inside Indian territory, Rangers were opposed to its repair as it would obstruct infiltration by terrorists.
The latest ceasefire violation has led to panic in border areas where people fear that it may lead to a fresh escalation between the two sides.
As peace had prevailed after the last month's Director General level talks between BSF and Rangers, the villagers had started working in their fields right up to the zero line.