MUZAFFARABAD: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government has warned people, particularly those living along the Line of Control (LoC), against touching or picking any familiar and unfamiliar devices or gadgets if found lying anywhere in the shelling-infested areas to avoid any danger to their lives.
Three people lost their lives and four others were wounded when they tried to tamper with a dud device in a shop near here a few days ago.
The warning came from the home department on Friday in the wake of reports that several dud shells and bomblets, fired by the Indian troops in recent ceasefire violations, had scattered far and wide along the LoC.
Previously, a number of casualties had also occurred when LoC residents, mostly young children, had tried to play or tamper with dud shells or bomblets out of ignorance, even though similar announcements were also made then.
According to military sources, dud shells are the ammunition that fails to explode and bomblets are parts of a medium artillery shell that spread in the targeted area after the shell explodes in the air and usually remain activated from 24 to 48 hours.
However, in some cases, the deactivation takes quite a long time. The size of the oval-shaped bomblets varies from four to five inches and because of their shape villagers refer to them as “toy bombs”.
“The enemy troops are constantly firing toy-shaped cluster bombs, mortar and medium artillery shells in civilian populated areas … If anyone spots any such device or gadget, including a mobile phone, he should not even touch it, let alone pick it up and take home,” said the home department in a press release. Instead, it added, “the nearest police station, civil defence officials or volunteers or village defence committee members should be informed about it because such a device can take your life”.
The home department said it had also issued directives to all deputy commissioners to not only increase police patrols in areas along the LoC but also launch an organised awareness campaign by involving all local sources of information, including clergymen.
It also announced a cash reward of Rs50,000 for the person informing the authorities about presence of any improvised explosive device(s) in any area and Rs500,000 for the person identifying any saboteur or anti-state element.
Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2019