MUZAFFARABAD: Two soldiers of the Pakistan Army embraced martyrdom in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Wednesday due to unprovoked firing and shelling by Indian troops from across the Line of Control (LoC).
The fatalities occurred in Dewa sector of AJK’s Bhimber district after the Indian troops resorted to ceasefire violation in the area without any provocation, according to a statement issued by Inter Services Public Relations, the military’s media affairs wing, on Wednesday.
Pakistan Army responded and targeted those Indian posts that had initiated the firing, the ISPR said, adding there were reports of “substantial damage” on the Indian side in terms of men and material.
During intense exchange of fire, Sepoy Noor ul Hassan, 29, and Sepoy Waseem Ali, 25, embraced martyrdom, the ISPR said.
On Wednesday, Indian troops resorted to firing with light and heavy weapons in Battal sector of Poonch district, causing partial damage to four houses in Tahi and Sehra villages. However, no casualties occurred there.
Syed Shahid Mohyiddin Qadri, AJK’s secretary of civil defence and disaster management, told Dawn that Indian army had been purposely pounding civilian areas to scare civilians into leaving their homes. At least 20 civilians lost their lives in Indian shelling in the current year, he said.
Military sources said that the death toll in the current year on their side was six. According to Mr Qadri, apart from the deaths, another 181 civilians had suffered injuries in the Indian shelling.
He said the Indian shelling also left 339 houses partially damaged and 27 houses and 12 shops destroyed.
Speaking at a public meeting in Neelum valley, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider strongly condemned the Indian shelling and offered condolences to families of the martyred soldiers.
“I pay rich tribute to our valiant forces for defending the ideological and geographical boundaries of the country,” he said.
Mr Haider also paid tribute to the civilian population living along the LoC and said they had always thwarted India’s nefarious designs against Kashmiris and Pakistan, together with the Pakistan Army.
Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2020