Indian troops targeted a funeral in a border village of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) from across the Line of Control (LoC) on Thursday, leaving two mourners dead and an elderly woman injured, officials and witnesses said.
The incident occurred in Polas Kakuta village in the Abbaspur sector of Poonch district at about 4pm, when a group of people was busy carrying out the burial rites of a fellow villager, Abbaspur police official Anjum Saleem told Dawn.
“Indian troops resorted to shelling without any provocation, targeting people in the local burial ground and as a result two mourners embraced martyrdom,” he said.
Afzal Kiani, a lawyer in Abbaspur, told Dawn that the villagers had just lowered the body in the grave when the shelling began, to their disbelief and shock.
“People tried to take shelter behind trees but nevertheless two of them lost their lives after being hit by splinters from the mortar shells,” he said.
The deceased, identified as Muhammad Iqbal Kiani and his cousin Shaukat Kiani, belonged to the nearby village of Chaffar. They were in their late forties.
Residents said that Shaukat Kiani was a Subedar (junior commissioned officer) in the army and had come home on leave.
His body was brought to the Abbaspur Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital for fulfilment of procedural requirements.
A 65-year-old widow Hasira Begum was also injured by shelling when she was performing some household chores outside her house in Chaffar village. She was also brought to THQ Hospital, but her condition was stated to be out of danger.
Advocate Kiani said villagers along the LoC had consistently been victims of India’s unprovoked ceasefire violations.
“Today’s incident is yet another proof that Indian troops act savagely... They have no respect for humanity and human values,” he said.
The heavily militarised LoC that splits disputed Kashmir between India and Pakistan has frequently witnessed cross-border shelling in a serious breach of a truce agreement struck by two armies in Nov 2003.
According to Saeed Qureshi, a director at the State Disaster Management Authority, the latest civilian casualties had pushed the death toll since January to 46, whereas the number of injured persons had increased to 257.
Subsequently, the military's media wing said in the evening that the army had targeted Indian posts in response to the unprovoked firing and killed an Indian soldier and injured five others.