MUZAFFARABAD: A group of students staged a demonstration on Thursday to pay homage to the martyrs of Indian shelling on a passenger bus in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

As many as 10 people were killed on the spot and many others wounded after the Indian troops hit the Rawalpindi-bound bus initially with small arms and later with a mortar shell near Nagdar Kinari village in the upper belt of the Neelum valley on November 23 last year. Three of the injured people died afterwards in different hospitals.

The demonstration was held at the city campus of the AJK University, where the students had also brought the shelling-affected bus.

The bus has been decorated with pictures of Kashmiri leaders as well as flags of Pakistan and AJK but the hole in its roof caused by the mortar shell has not been fixed.

Standing in front of the bus with small placards and a banner in their hands, the demonstrators shouted anti-India and pro-freedom slogans.

“Down with coward and killer India,” they chanted.

“Today we are here to remind the international community that the enemy we are facing is not only cruel but also roguish…It does not spare even innocent and unarmed women and children,” said Ali Raza Naqvi, one of the protesters.

“At the same time, we also pay tribute to all those LoC residents who are regularly experiencing unprovoked ceasefire violations by India with utmost bravery and resilience,” he added.

In Athmuqam, the headquarters of Neelum valley, a “Neelum martyrs conference” was held to commemorate the bus attack.

“The valiant residents of Neelum valley and other areas along the bloody dividing line (LoC) are serving as our front defence line and deserve our tributes and appreciation for their invaluable contribution to the collective cause of Kashmiris,” said Shah Ghulam Qadir, AJK Legislative Assembly speaker and acting president.

Other speakers said November 23 was a ‘black day’ in the history of Neelum valley, which had long borne the brunt of cross-border shelling before both armies struck a historic ceasefire agreement in 2003, also in the month of November.

However, the truce agreement is constantly being violated by Indian troops, mainly in Haveli, Poonch and Kotli districts.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2017