MUZAFFARABAD: Indian firing left a young boy critically wounded in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Sunday — less than 48 hours since military officials from Pakistan and India were said to have agreed to revive the spirit of a 14-year-old ceasefire agreement between the two sides.

“Ten-year-old Umar Ajaib was injured in the Dharamsal village of Battal sector in Poonch district at about 2pm when he was playing in the courtyard of his house, unaware of [the possibility of] an attack from across the Line of Control [LoC],” said Mohammad Aziz, a police official, by telephone.

“Indian troops resorted to firing with small arms and a bullet pierced into his back, rendering him critically injured,” he said, adding that the victim was rushed to Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahayan Hospital in Rawalakot. The heavily militarised LoC that splits the disputed Kashmir region has been witnessing frequent ceasefire violations for more than a year now.

However, Sunday’s casualty occurred after a considerably long gap in cross-border shelling, as the last casualties were reported on Oct 24 from the Leepa valley of Muzaffarabad division when two women were killed and six others wounded.

According to military sources, India has committed around 1,140 ceasefire violations this year — the highest number when compared to other years since November 2003 when the two armies struck the historic ceasefire agreement.

As a result of the violations, 41 civilians (24 of them men and 17 women) have lost their lives while another 247 have sustained injuries in different areas of AJK in the ongoing year, according to the State Disaster Management Authority.

On Friday, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited the LoC in the company of Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, where he strongly condemned India’s “unprofessional approach” of targeting innocent civilians from across the divide.

On the same day, the 44th biannual meeting between the Pakistan Rangers and India’s Border Security Force (BSF) had concluded in New Delhi, where loss of innocent lives as a result of ceasefire violations and unprovoked firing was also discussed, with emphasis to revive the spirit of the 2003 ceasefire agreement between the two armies to overcome this ordeal.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2017

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