Ceasefire violations at the restive Line of Control (LoC) continued on Thursday, claiming the life of an elderly man in Kotli district, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), local officials said.
“Shelling started at about 7:30am with Indian troops firing volleys of mortar shells at civilian populations,” said Assistant Commissioner Nakyal Waleed Anwar.
“Splinters of a mortar shell hit 70-year-old Nazeer Hussain Mughal in Dheri village at about 10:30am, leaving him dead on the spot,” he said.
Anwar said that Indian troops were targeting educational institutions where elementary board exams were being held since Tuesday.
“Today’s exams have been cancelled in most vulnerable schools due to the targeted shelling from across the divide,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Chaudhry Guftar, from AJK's southernmost Bhimber district, told Dawn that two people were injured by Indian shelling in Mali village of Barnala tehsil late on Wednesday night. He identified them as Muhammad Hanif, 40, and Muhammad Hussain, 40.
Cross-LoC shelling also took place in Battal sector of Poonch district from 8:15am to 12:45pm on Thursday, but no casualty was reported from there.
“The shelling was heavy but fortunately there were no casualties, except for the death of some cattle,” Ashfaq Shah, a police official from the area, told Dawn.
The latest casualties have brought the civilian death toll to at least 15 in the ongoing year, while another 64 have been injured, say officials.
The Foreign Office summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh to lodge a protest over the ceasefire violation.
A statement issued by the FO said Indian forces have committed more than 400 ceasefire violations since the start of 2018, killing 19 civilians and injuring 69 others through the use of heavy mortars and automatic weapons.
"The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation," the statement said.
Concern over shelling
Acting president AJK, Shah Ghulam Qadir, expressed serious concern over unabated ceasefire violations by Indian troops across the LoC and called upon the United Nations and international human rights organisations to take notice of the situation.
Speaking to a delegation of National Security and War course in AJK on Thursday, Qadir claimed that the motive of unprovoked Indian firing was to force the local population to flee from the LoC, but the valiant Kashmiris could not be frightened by such negative tactics.
Qadir pointed out that India had failed to suppress the mass movement in held Kashmir, and apart from unleashing their reign of terror on the Kashmiris, it was taking revenge of its failure and frustration from the people living near the LoC.
Indian rulers have failed to show an iota of respect to the UN charter and international norms, which is why Indian troops are constantly targeting AJK’s non-combatant civilian population along the LoC, he claimed.
With additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui in Islamabad.