Elderly man killed, 5 wounded in cross-LoC shelling by Indian troops in AJK

Updated April 02, 2019

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An Indian army soldier takes up position near the Line of Control. —AFP/File
An Indian army soldier takes up position near the Line of Control. —AFP/File

An elderly villager died and two women and three young boys were injured in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Monday in unrelenting ceasefire violations by Indian troops across the restive Line of Control (LoC), officials said.

Ansar Siddique, a police official in Forward Kahuta, the district headquarters of Haveli, told Dawn that Indian troops resorted to shelling in Nezapir sector at about 7am, using small and heavy weapons.

The shelling was largely restricted to military posts on opposite sides “but occasionally the Indian army would also pound civilian settlements”, he said.

Editorial: LoC attacks must cease immediately so the misery and hardship of locals ends

He said a 75-year-old villager, who was grazing his cattle in Akhori village, was killed on the spot after being hit by splinters of a shell. The deceased was identified as Ghulam Muhammad, son of Raja Muhammad.

Elsewhere in the same sector, Muhammad Yusuf, 15, and Muhammad Asif, 10, were injured in Kairni village and Akbar Jan, 55, and Muhammad Shahzad, 11, were injured in the neighbouring Mandhaar village, the official added.

The injured were admitted to a military-run health facility in district headquarters Kahuta where they were said to be out of danger.

An official in Kotli district told Dawn that Goi and Tattapani sectors had been experiencing heavy shelling since last night.

Rubina Kausar, 28, was injured in Goi Batali village after shrapnel from a shell hit her in the right leg, the official said, adding that two houses were partially damaged in Dhanna village of Tattapani sector.

The administration also shifted an examination centre in Tattapani from a boys’ degree college to a boys’ high school as the building of the college was highly vulnerable to Indian shelling.

The Battal sector in the neighbouring Poonch district also witnessed heavy shelling, but no casualties were reported from there.

High tensions

The heavily militarised LoC was relatively calm over the past one week as the last casualties were reported on March 24 from Bhimber and Haveli districts where a 10-year-old boy and a man were injured, respectively.

Tensions have been running high between India and Pakistan in the wake of a suicide attack on an Indian military convoy in Pulwama district of Indian-occupied Kashmir on February 14, which killed more than 40 paramilitary troops.

In what was the most serious military crisis in South Asia since 2008, Indian and Pakistani warplanes engaged in a dogfight on Feb 27, a day after a raid by Indian jet fighters on what New Delhi said was a militant camp in Pakistan. Islamabad denied any militant camp exists in the area and said the Indian bombs exploded on an empty hillside.

Pakistan downed an Indian plane for violating its airspace and captured its pilot after he ejected in AJK.

The tensions de-escalated after Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to release the Indian pilot as a peace gesture, and following concerted diplomatic efforts by countries including the United States, China and the UAE.

Nevertheless, ceasefire violations along the de-factor border have been occurring regularly.

According to Syed Shahid Mohyiddin Qadri, secretary of the State Disaster Management Authority, the latest casualties have pushed the death toll in different areas of AJK in the ongoing year to 11, with six males and five females among the deceased.

The number of injured persons has also swelled to 63 including 39 males and 24 females, he said, adding that most of these casualties had occurred after the Pulwama attack.

Apart from the casualties, Qadri said, Indian shelling has also rendered 118 houses, two educational institutions and a mosque damaged partially and nine houses and two shops damaged completely.