AJK people tell foreign journalists tales of pain caused by Indian firing

Published July 23, 2020
A senior army officer briefs Islamabad-based correspondents of international news organisations at a hilltop post near the Line of Control, in the Chirikot sector of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, on Wednesday.—AP
A senior army officer briefs Islamabad-based correspondents of international news organisations at a hilltop post near the Line of Control, in the Chirikot sector of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, on Wednesday.—AP

MUZAFFARABAD: A group of Islamabad-based foreign correspondents visited Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Wednesday to gain first-hand knowledge about the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) amid “unrelenting and unprovoked” ceasefire violations by the Indian army.

According to sources, the media persons visited the Chirikot sector in Haveli district. They were shown the areas across the LoC in occupied Kashmir from where Indian troops were deliberately targeting civilians in AJK with mortar and artillery.

Even banned cluster munitions were being used by the Indian army in sectors along the LoC in sheer defiance and disregard of all international conventions, the visiting media persons were informed.

The foreign correspondents saw military posts situated eyeball to eyeball across the LoC, as well as India’s massive surveillance grid system, the sources said.

Military commanders told the visitors that India’s surveillance system consisted of three-tier defence. The first tier, within 500 to 1,000 metres of the LoC, included mines, surveillance detachments, underground sensors and a long-range observation system.

The second tier at the fence and main defences, within 1,000-2,000 metres of the LoC, included wire obstacles, battlefield radars and an anti-infiltration obstacle system.

The third tier had ridgelines, water channels, gaps and roads.

With such surveillance grid and obstacles grid, infiltration was next to impossible, but Indian troops find it easy to take refuge behind flimsy allegations that “terrorists sneak into (India-occupied) Kashmir” from AJK, the visitors were informed.

The continuous siege of India-occupied Kashmir by more than 900,000 Indian troops completed its 347th day on Wednesday.

There is one soldier for every eight Kashmiris since India revoked the occupied territory’s special status on Aug 5 last year.

The locals expressed admiration for their brethren across the LoC during their interaction with the foreign journalists, saying they were confident Kashmiris would soon succeed in throwing off the Indian yoke.

“We condemn India’s desperate attempts to separate us [Kashmiris] from each other by repealing some articles of its constitution,” said an elderly man, referring to articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian constitution.

“We are with them and will remain with them for all times to come,” he added.

Some victims of the Indian shelling shared their ordeal with the visiting media persons.

A teenage girl told them that she was playing with other children outside her home when Indians fired a shell, wounding her.

A man told them he had lost vision in his right eye after a bullet fired by the Indians pierced his forehead and came out through his neck.

Another man, accompanying a little girl, told the foreign media that she was taking lessons in a madressah along with other children when shelling started, leaving her and many others wounded.

Army commanders informed the media persons that after the installation of the BJP government in New Delhi, ceasefire violations along the LoC had risen significantly.

Since 2015, the Indian army had committed as many as 11,815 ceasefire violations, they said.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2020

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