MUZAFFARABAD: A woman and three young boys lost their lives and another person was injured in two areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Wednesday in Indian shelling from across the restive Line of Control (LoC), officials and residents said.
In Nakyal sector of Kotli district, Razeem Saleem, 21, his brother Tazeem Saleem, 18, and their cousin Ali Maroof, 14, were in the courtyard of a small mud structure for cattle in Datot village when the shell from across the divide exploded on a rock in front of them, said Sardar Umar Farooq, Assistant Commissioner of Nakyal, of which Datot is a part.
“The boys were busy holding and flying pigeons, unmindful of any aggression from across the LoC on an unusually calm day, when the shell landed near them,” he said, quoting some eyewitnesses.
As a result, Razeem and Tazeem died on the spot while Ali was injured seriously and was taken to Tehsil Headquarters Hospital in Nakyal. However, he succumbed to his wounds in the middle of the journey and was brought dead in the facility where people offered his funeral before sending the body back to his village, Mr Farooq said.
Their two oxen were also injured in the explosion, he added.
The unmarked dividing line lies at an aerial distance of hardly 200 metres from Datot and an Indian army post also exists there, but the assistant commissioner said the shell had been fired, reportedly from a 60MM mortar gun, from a rear location in Indian occupied territory.
Ibrar Alam, a local journalist, told Dawn that people were busy doing different chores as per daily routine when this incident occurred.
He said that since the shell exploded very close to the victims, there was hardly any part of their bodies that had not been pierced or cut by the shrapnel.
He said the funeral of all three would be held at 9am on Thursday.
In Bhimber district, Indian troops resorted to shelling late in the evening, leaving a woman martyred and her spouse wounded in Barnala sector, said Senior Superintendent of Police Mir Mohammad Abid.
The victims, identified as Rasheed Begum, 55, and Mohammad Hussain Malik, 60, were sleeping in the courtyard of their house in Nali village when they were hit by shelling at about 9.45pm, he told Dawn.
The latest casualties have pushed current year’s death toll in AJK as a result of unrelenting ceasefire violations by the Indian army to 12, while at least 102 other civilians have sustained injuries.
Meanwhile, AJK President Sardar Masood Khan and Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider have strongly condemned “unprovoked” ceasefire violations by the Indian army, which they said had claimed four more innocent lives in AJK.
Such dastardly actions were aimed at diverting attention from the embarrassing debacle in Ladakh, but would not deter the valiant Kashmiri people from pursuing their just struggle for right to self-determination, they said.
Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2020