A six-year-old boy and a Border Security Force jawan were killed and 10 people, including 8 civilians, were injured in the heaviest cross-border shelling by Pakistani troops which targeted civilian areas and 25 posts of the Indian border guarding force along the International Border in Jammu throughout the night.
As the ceasefire violations intensified, BSF chief K K Sharma said Pakistani forces are deliberately trying to "create a flash point" to facilitate infiltration of terrorists into India and asserted that these designs will be foiled.
The Pakistani soldiers used small and automatic weapons and resorted to mortar bomb shelling to target over 25 border out posts (BoPs) and civilian areas in R S Pura, Arnia, Suchetgarh, Kanachak, Pargwal sub sectors of Jammu district since Sunday night, a BSF officer said.
"One child died and 8 civilians were injured in the firing and shelling by Pakistani troops on posts and civilian villages along IB in Jammu district," Deputy Commissioner Jammu Simrandeep Singh said.
The boy Vicky Kumar was killed as Pakistani forces resorted to unprovoked firing in a "complete bizarre manner" on civilian areas at Laliyal village in R S Pura, official sources said.
Vicky, belonging to a labourer family from Bihar, died due to splinter injuries from a mortar shell explosion. He had spent the night in a bunker and as soon as he came out to play, the splinter hit him, officials said.
BSF constable Sushil Kumar of Kurukshetra in Haryana was also martyred and another was injured in the Pakistani firing and shelling, the BSF officer said.
Sushil Kumar was hit with a splinter in his neck at a post in R S Pura and was shifted to GMC hospital, where doctors declared him dead, the senior BSF officer said.
Nine others were injured in the overnight firing of whom condition of a woman was stated to be critical.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is on a visit to Bahrain, said he spoke to BSF DG K K Sharma who apprised him of the situation in border areas of Jammu region. "The BSF is capable of giving befitting reply," he tweeted.
"I salute the bravery and sacrifice of BSF jawan Sushil Kumar who was martyred in RS Pura sector of Jammu region last night," Singh added.
Simrandeep Singh said 30 cattle had also perished and 130 others were injured in the Pakistani firing and shelling in various border hamlets in the district.
Police and Civil authorities are assessing losses to property in various villages along the IB in Jammu district on account of Pakistani shelling, the Deputy Commissioner added.
Major has been caused to the houses and other properties in the border hamlets, an official said.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Army claimed that two people, including a minor girl, were killed in "unprovoked firing" by Indian troops.
The Pakistan Army, in a statement, alleged that the Indian soldiers resorted to firing and shelling in Harpal, Pukhlian and Charwah sectors on the working boundary.
Due to India's "unprovoked firing" at the working boundary last night a civilian of village Janglora and a one and a half-years old girl were killed while seven civilians were injured, it said.
BSF chief insisted that his force never targets civilian areas nor initiates ceasefire violations.
"They (Pakistani forces) deliberately create such flash points with an aim of engineering infiltration," he told media persons while commenting on the intensified cross-border shelling and firing by Pakistani troops.
"You can say that they (Pakistani troops) always try to create a flash point so that they get an excuse to go for action," Sharma added after laying wreath on mortal remains of BSF Head Constable Sushil Kumar who was killed in Pakistani shelling in R S Pura sector on Monday morning.
The BSF Director General said while Pakistan may start the confrontation, "we are committed to give befitting reply and foiling their designs of infiltration.... We have to react so that we do not allow them to get successful in their designs to engineer infiltration from across the border."
He said the morale of the troops is "very high and we are ready to meet any eventuality".
Asserting that BSF never initiates ceasefire violation, he said the Indian border guarding force only gives a "befitting reply" to the provocations by the Pakistani forces.
"I want to clarify that we have never initiated (any ceasefire violation). It is Pakistan which is doing it. As you know in case of (BSF constable) Gurnam Singh, they killed him in a sniper fire first. In reply to that we gave them befitting reply," Sharma said, referring to last week's incident in which BSF claimed to have killed 7 Pakistani Rangers and a terrorist in retaliatory fire.
"The way they are bombarding our areas, they are targeting civilians but as a policy, BSF does not target civilians at all," Sharma said.
"We only target the place from where the fire is coming. We only target military and Pakistani Rangers establishments. We never intentionally target civilian areas," he added.
About today's incident, he said, "They initiated heavy shelling in R S Pura, we retaliated to that."
He added, ".. the area weapons do not have great amount of accuracy. As a result, civilians are also harmed, property is also damaged. That is the collateral damage."
In reply to another question about his message and directive to the field commanders, Sharma said "I have asked my commanders not to initiate anything. But at the same time give them befitting and strong reply".
Sending out a message, the BSF DG said, "I would like to convey to Pakistan that as in the past, they will have to retreat. I will only tell them that they should desist from unholy designs and they should not do anything that will harm us as in the past."
IMAGE: Martyred jawan Sushil Kumar. Photograph: ANI