MUZAFFARABAD: A man was killed in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Saturday in unprovoked Indian shelling from across the Line of Control (LoC), marking the first casualty of 2020 in unrelenting ceasefire violations along the heavily militarised dividing line in the disputed Himalayan region, an official said.
Chaudhry Ishtiaq, 24, son of Mohammad Mushtaq, lost his life at Nidhi Sohana village of Khuiratta subdivision in Kotli district where Indian shelling started after 4:45pm “without any provocation,” said Dr Umer Azam, deputy commissioner of Kotli.
“The shelling became intense after 5pm but now it is intermittent,” he told Dawn at 9:30pm.
The deputy commissioner regretted that many residents along the LoC did not properly shield themselves from the cross-LoC firing and instead took the exchange of fire lightly.
“Many casualties have occurred because of this tendency,” he said.
However, Shariq Talat, a disaster management officer in Kotli, told Dawn that Mr Ishtiaq fell victim to Indian shelling when he was behind closed doors.
“A shell landed in their courtyard and its splinters pierced through the wooden door of his room and hit him in the abdomen,” he said of Mr Ishtiaq, adding, he succumbed to wounds on way to District Headquarters Hospital Kotli.
The family of the deceased also lost two goats to Indian shelling, Mr Talat said.
According to AJK Chief Secretary Mathar Niaz Rana, there was no let up in ceasefire violations by the Indian army after the onset of 2020 but Mr Ishtiaq’s death was the first casualty of the year.
“Despite targeting unarmed civilian population, Indian army has failed to frighten or break the resolve of Kashmiris,” he said.
Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2020