Indian troops on Saturday shot a rocket launcher from across the Line of Control (LoC), leaving a young woman dead and her two siblings and a cousin critically wounded in a border village of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), officials told Dawn.
The attack took place when the victims were outdoors in Baig Wala Lanjot, a hamlet barely 150 metres away from the LoC in Nakyal sector of Kotli district, during the afternoon.
According to Abdul Hameed Kiani, the deputy commissioner of Kotli, 26-year old Rubaida Khayam, daughter of Sardar Khayam, died as a result of the attack. The victim's sisters Sufaida Khayam and Zubaiba, and cousin Sumaida Ismail were critically injured.
Nakyal Assistant Commissioner Waleed Anwar said the victims had no idea that the enemy could stoop so low as to fire a rocket launcher on them while they were busy in domestic chores.
He said the injured persons had been moved to Kotli's District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital.
Cross-LoC shelling was not reported from any other area or sector of Kotli district, “but you never know when and where the cowardice enemy may resort to ceasefire violations,” Kiani said.
On Friday evening, Shan Begum, 55, and Zara Khalid, 7, were injured in Keri village of Charhoi sector and Sana Babar, 11, was injured in Seri Manjwarr village of Khuiratta sector, also in Kotli district.
They were also under treatment in DHQ Hospital Kotli, Kiani said.
The heavily militarised LoC is frequently witnessing ceasefire violations in a serious breach of November 2003 truce agreement as well as a recent understanding between the two sides to respect the accord.
The fresh civilian casualties evoked a strong reaction from the AJK government functionaries.
“The bloodthirstiness of Indian troops has crossed limits inside the held territory as well as along the Line of Control,” said Chaudhry Tariq Farooq, AJK’s senior minister.
“Today’s unfortunate incident is yet another proof that Indian troops are deliberately targeting non-combatant Kashmiris on both sides of the bloody dividing line (LoC) in a way that amounts to [commission of] war crimes,” he added.
PPP regional president Chaudhry Latif Akbar also condemned the incident and said it should not go unnoticed at the hands of countries which champion human rights.
“The UN and world powers advocating human rights should see for themselves how mercilessly Indian government and its savage army is persecuting innocent Kashmiris on both sides of the LoC.”
“For how long we will have to wait for the much needed UN intervention in accordance with its mandate,” he questioned.
Foreign Office summons Indian diplomat
Later in the day, Foreign Office summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian forces along the LoC in Nikial Sector.
According to Foreign Office, the latest Ceasefire violation resulted in the death of a 30-year-old woman and caused injuries to her three sisters.
Director General South Asia and Saarc Dr Muhammad Faisal said deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws.
He underscored that the ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation.
The latest LoC casualties occurred when massive anti-India protests have erupted on both sides of the LoC following the martyrdom of 17 Kashmiris in a single day in Shopian and Anantnag (Islamabad) districts of held Kashmir.
On Saturday, hundreds of people staged an “Azm-i-Shahadat’ (determination for martyrdom) rally in Muzaffarabad under the aegis of Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest and predominantly indigenous regroup fighting Indian occupation of Kashmir.
Participants of the rally were holding banners and placards inscribed with anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. “War with India will continue till freedom of occupied Kashmir,” read one of the placards.
On Friday, entire Pakistan and AJK had observed a ‘Solidarity Day’ with the struggling Kashmiris in accordance with a decision of the federal cabinet.