JAMMU, India—India has accused Pakistan of ceasefire violations along the disputed border in Jammu and Kashmir after fierce military clashes on Nov. 13.
Five Indian soldiers and six civilians were killed in cross-border shelling, while 11 Pakistani soldiers and four civilians died, the Jammu-based newspaper Daily Excelsior reported.
“The firing started at 11:30 a.m. and stopped at 3 p.m. It was both artillery as well as mortar gun firing,” Gulam Quadir, 42, a farmer in the Sawjian sector, one of the affected areas on the disputed border inside India in Poonch district, told The Epoch Times by phone.
Quadir said six people were injured in his area—two women, two children, and two porters working with the army.
“Five [mortar] shells exploded in this area. Three exploded and two didn’t. Bomb disposal squads are expected today to defuse,” he said on Nov. 14.
Daily Excelsior called it one of the “bloodiest days” along the disputed border in northern Kashmir, where the dead included a 7-year-old boy.
“Spare a thought for our Bravehearts who ensured we celebrate Deepawali in peace & made the Supreme Sacrifice,” the PRO of the Ministry of Defense said as India celebrated the festival of lights, Deepawali, on Nov. 14.
Sheltering in BunkersAmid the clashes, residents of affected villages took shelter in community and individual bunkers—underground defensive residential quarters built by the Indian government for people on disputed borders that experience heavy cross-border shelling.
“It created a lot of panic. Some hid in the jungle nearby. Most took shelter in the community bunkers,” Quadir said.
He said there are five community bunkers in his neighborhood of 102 people and 25 bunkers for 3,600 people in his panchayat [electoral zone] and 12 individual bunkers.
Faiz Rathore, 21, a college student from Mendhar in Poonch district on the Indian side, said the Indian government provides 3.5 lakhs ($4,696) to every family that wants to construct an individual bunker that’s attached to a home.
Mendhar witnesses frequent shelling, Rathore said, which disrupts every facet of life. Bureaucratic delays by local officials have delayed construction on bunkers in the area, he said.
“Schools are not able to run regularly. Right now, they are closed because of COVID but otherwise, also they are not able to operate because of frequent shelling,” he said. “No school here has a bunker yet.”
The Indian government has erected a border fence along its international and disputed border with Pakistan. This fence however doesn’t run on the de facto border—at places, it runs a few miles from the boundary, and at others, it runs as far away as 12 miles.
Public movement occurs across the fence line through gates that are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to Rathore.
“The fence is for our safety but people living on the other side of the fence don’t have adequate medical facilities and after the gate closes at night, they face extensive difficulties,” he said.