MUZAFFARABAD: A woman lost her life and another five women and two men were wounded in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in unrelenting and unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian troops from across the restive Line of Control (LoC), officials said on Monday.

The casualties occurred in Khurshidabad and Neza­pir sectors of Haveli district on Sunday evening, but the information was officially shared with the media on Monday.

Haveli Deputy Commis­sioner Raja Arshad Mah­mood said since the affected villages were in the closest proximity to the LoC, information about the human and material losses had poured in quite late on Sunday and was thus shared with the media on Monday after verification of each incident.

Muhammad Zaheer, a disaster management officer in Haveli, told Dawn that Indian troops resorted to ceasefire violations in Nezapir sector at around 3:45pm and Khurshidabad sector at around 6pm, “without any provocation”.

“They used both small and big arms and targeted civilian populations, restric­ting people indoors till late night,” he said.

Rehmat Jan, 45, wife of Muhammad Din Shaikh, died on the spot in Mandhar village after she was hit by splinters of a mortar shell. Another woman, Begum Jan, 48, was injured in the same village.

Of the other casualties, the official said, Zainab Jan, 60, Mohammad Naeem Dar, 24, and Ulfat Rashid, 17, were injured in Kairni village, and Munir Hussain, 20, his sister Nosheen, 18, and Kosar Parveen, 26, were injured in Kachar Ban village.

Three of them — Begum Jan, Zainab Jan and Naeem Dar — were hospitalised in a military-run health facility in district headquarters Forward Kahuta while the rest had been allowed to go home after treatment, he said.

Protest lodged

In a statement on Monday, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider vehemently condemned Indian shelling at civilian populations and called upon the UN to take its notice.

“Unrelenting ceasefire violations by Indian government reflect her frustration in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s mediation offer for settlement of the festering dispute,” he said.

In Islamabad, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia to lodge protest over the recent violation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement, a press release by the ministry said.

Dr Faisal urged the Indian side to respect the ceasefire agreement and termed the targeting of the civilian population as “deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws”.

“The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation,” the press release read.

The heavily militarised LoC has been witnessing frequent civilian losses in India’s violation of the 16-year-old truce agreement, particularly after February, when an Indian army convoy was attacked in Pulwama area of held Kashmir.

According to Saeed Qureshi, a senior director at State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) in Muzaffarabad, the latest ceasefire violations had pushed the civilian death toll in 2019 to 22, including 13 men and nine women.

Of them, he said, nine had lost their lives in Kotli district, six in Haveli district, three in Bhimber district, two in Jhelum Valley district and one each in Neelum Valley and Poonch districts.

According to military sources, at least 11 army personnel had also been martyred along the LoC in the current year.

Mr Qureshi told that another 114 civilians, including 65 men and 49 women, had sustained injuries in the ongoing year and of them 36 belonged to Kotli district, 27 to Poonch district, 24 to Haveli district, 19 to Bhimber district, seven to Jhelum valley district and one to Neelum valley district.

He said around 18 houses and four shops were completely damaged and 220 houses, one mosque, two schools and five vehicles were partially damaged.

Villagers had also lost at least 26 cattle head in enemy shelling in the current year, he added.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2019

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