MUZAFFARABAD: Indian troops resorted to “unprovoked” shelling from across the Line of Control (LoC) on Friday, causing damage to some civilian properties in Neelum valley but there were no casualties, an official said.
The shelling started at about 12:45pm “without any provocation” and continued over the next four hours indiscriminately and intermittently, said Raja Mahmood Shahid, deputy commissioner of Neelum.
Dudhnial village in the upper belt was worst-hit but district headquarters Athmuqam and its surroundings were also hit, he said.
He told Dawn by telephone that Indian troops pounded the bazaar of Dudhnial and its residential areas on both sides of the Neelum river, causing partial damage to a mosque and four shops.
Mushtaq Butt, a resident of Dudhnial, told Dawn a restaurant was badly damaged and two guesthouses and a health facility were partially damaged.
No casualties reported, though property damaged
Pictures shared by residents on social media showed broken windowpanes strewn over rugs in the mosque and its cracked polythene water tanks outside.
Due to the lockdown enforced across the valley to contain Covid-19 outbreak, there were no people in the mosque and, therefore, no physical loss occurred there, Mr Shahid said. There was no such loss in the deserted bazaar as well.
He said since the communication link with the area was severed after the shelling, “information about damage in the residential areas could not be ascertained immediately”. “However, I am sure there won’t be any casualty because people are wise enough to take shelter in safer areas,” he said.
Condemning the latest ceasefire violation by Indian troops, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider said while Covid-19 had diverted attention of the governments across the globe from all other issues, the Indian government had not given up its ghastly practice of shelling at innocent civilian population in AJK.
“Even the global pandemic hasn’t changed the psyche of roguish Indian army. We are concentrating on prevention of Covid-19 in AJK and want India’s occupation machinery to do the same in occupied J&K. But, instead, they’re more focused on committing ceasefire violations across the ceasefire line,” he tweeted.
Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2020
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