SRINAGAR, India (CNS) — More than 40,000 villagers have fled their homes since Indian and Pakistani soldiers began exchanging fire across their borders.
Ucanews.com reported at least 12 people, including seven civilians, have been killed in skirmishes since Jan. 18 across the Line of Control, a military demarcation agreed by both nations across Kashmir.
Local leaders such as Bishop Ivan Pereira of Jammu–Srinagar have expressed concern over the mounting tension between the nuclear-powered South Asian rivals.
“The situation is worrisome, as precious human lives are getting lost. We pray that such hostilities between both sides end soon,” Bishop Pereira told ucanews.com.
“Dialogue is the best way to achieve results without shedding blood and without creating any animosity,” he said. “We urge both countries to talk, as violence is not a solution to any issue.”
The exchange of fire become heavier Jan. 19, forcing India’s Jammu and Kashmir state to sound a red alert, asking people in frontier areas to move out of their homes and take shelter in government safe houses.
“Villages in the border area of Jammu province are dark and deserted. The area is being continuously shelled. The people fled to safety,” the government advisory said.
The tension increased after Pakistan started heavy shelling, according to India. However, Pakistani officials claim India fired first in a violation of a 2003 cease-fire agreement.
India often accuses Pakistan of supporting an insurgency in the Indian part of Kashmir, an allegation Pakistan has denied consistently.
India also accuses Pakistan of supporting “a freedom struggle” in Indian Kashmir against the Indian administration. Some groups have also taken up arms in an effort to separate Kashmir from India.
The conflict dates to 1947, when India and Pakistan become separate states after British rule ended. Both countries claim Kashmir in full and have fought at least three wars and countless skirmishes over it.
Help keep Catholic media free, support CatholicPhilly.com
You may have noticed “pay walls” greeting you when you visit the websites of newspapers and magazines, both large and small. These mechanisms allow you to read a few articles for free before you’ve got to pay an annual fee if you want to see more.
You won’t find a pay wall on CatholicPhilly.com because we’re more than a news organization. We’re informing, inspiring and forming readers in the Catholic faith every day through the news, features and commentaries that we post on this site and share across social media.
It costs money to provide high-quality coverage of the local Catholic communities we primarily serve, while also distributing national and world news of interest to Catholics, plus the orthodox teachings of the Catholic faith.
Help us in this mission by making a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: