SIALKOT: Six persons, four of them from the same family, were killed and 22 others injured on Friday as Indian Border Security Force stepped up shelling and firing on border villages in Sucheetgarh, Charwah, Harpal, Bajra Garhi, Chaprar and Merajkey sectors along the Working Boundary (WB).
Heavy mortar shells hit the house of Noor Hussain, a farmer from Khanoor village, killing four members of his family — Kulsoom Bibi, 42, Shama Naz, 18, Muskaan, 10, and Ali Hamza, 14. Hussain received serious head wounds and was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Two other civilians were also killed in the latest spate of shelling by the BSF: Naveed Ahmed, 25, was killed in Harnawali and 12-year-old Ahtesham Ahmed in Sakroori village.
Rescue 1122 officials confirmed that 22 civilians had been injured in the ceasefire violations along the WB. Most of them were taken to the Combined Military Hospital, Sialkot, many of them in a critical condition.
FO summons New Delhi’s envoy, lodges protest over deaths
According to sources, residents of the affected villages had woken up for Sehri when the shelling began. The shells hit and injured several dozens of cattle heads, but some of them landed in the fields and did not explode.
The four members of a family who were killed in the firing were later laid to rest in Khanoor village.
Many residents of the village gathered in the village square to hold a demonstration and condemn the brutal killing of civilians living along the WB.
Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) Director General Major General Azhar Naveed Hayat Khan met people who lost their loved ones and condemned the attacks on civilians residing in border villages. He also attended the funerals of victims and expressed solidarity with the grieving families.
Maj Gen Khan praised the high morale of the personnel of Punjab Rangers, and stressed that all efforts would be made to guard the country’s borders.
He asked the troops stationed on forward posts to respond aggressively to any ceasefire violation from across the WB.
Official protest lodged
The acting foreign secretary summoned the Indian high commissioner and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian forces, the Foreign Office said.
An FO statement said the acting secretary called on the Indian government to respect the 2003 ceasefire arrangement and urged it to permit the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan to play its mandated role as per resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.
It said the Indian forces were continuously targeting civilian populated areas along the LoC and WB with heavy weapons.
The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas was deplorable and contrary to human dignity, human rights and international humanitarian laws, said the FO statement. The ceasefire violations were a threat to regional peace and security and might lead to a strategic miscalculation.
“In 2018, the Indian forces have carried out more than 1,050 ceasefire violations along the LoC and WB, resulting in the Shahadat [martyrdom] of 28 innocent civilians, while injuring 117 others,” it said.
Last year the Indian forces committed 1,970 violations, the statement added.
The other side
Police in India-held Jammu and Kashmir claimed that four civilians and a soldier were killed in cross-border shelling, adds AFP.
“Four border residents and a Border Security Force soldier were killed in the Pakistani firing,” said the director general of police in India-held territory, S.P. Vaid. Twelve people were injured.
Official sources alleged the paramilitary soldier was killed by a Pakistani sniper on Thursday night.
The flare-up came a day ahead of a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to held Kashmir.
Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2018