UN confirms vehicle on routine patrol damaged near Rawalakot, says investigating incident

Published December 19, 2020
A picture showing the damage sustained to the UN military observer vehicle. — Photo: ISPR
A picture showing the damage sustained to the UN military observer vehicle. — Photo: ISPR

The United Nations on Friday confirmed that a vehicle of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was damaged after it was hit by an “unidentified object” near Rawalakot on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control (LoC).

“The Mission is currently investigating the incident,” deputy spokesman to the secretary general, Farhan Haq, said in response to a question from APP at the regular briefing in New York. He said according to details present with him, no one was injured in the incident but the UNMOGIP vehicle sustained damage.

Responding to an Indian journalist’s question on whether the UN was aware of the Indian government’s rejection of reports from Pakistan, Haq said, “We are aware of what both sides have been saying.”

“At this stage, we’re simply aware that a vehicle was hit by an unidentified object, like I said no one was harmed […] and we are investigating the incident.”

He said the incident occurred when UNMOGIP military observers were conducting routine monitoring activities near Rawalakot as part of the Mission’s mandate to observe and report on ceasefire violations at the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.

Pakistan summons Indian envoy

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office (FO) on Saturday summoned the Indian Chargé d'Affaires over the "deliberate targeting" of the UN vehicle by Indian occupation forces.

"The Indian Chargé d'Affaires was summoned to the Foreign Office to register Pakistan’s strong protest at the deliberate targeting of observers belonging to the UNMOGIP," a statement by FO spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudri said.

"The deliberate targeting of a UN vehicle, engaged in discharging the mandate of the UN Security Council, constitutes a grave violation of India’s obligations, under the council’s resolutions and the UN charter, which includes the obligation to ensure the safety and security of the UNMOGIP observers," the FO statement said, adding that the stunt "appears to be a new coercive and reckless Indian ploy to hinder the observers’ work".

"It was communicated to the Indian side that the brazen act was a flagrant violation of established international norms and represented a complete disregard for principles enshrined in the UN charter."

It was also conveyed that the reprehensible act also represented a new low in the conduct of Indian occupation forces which target not only innocent civilians residing along the LoC but UN observers as well, the statement said.

The Indian side was called upon to desist from such blatant violations of international law, respect the 2003 ceasefire understanding between India and Pakistan, and let the UNMOGIP perform its role mandated by the UN Security Council, it concluded.

Indian troops target UN vehicle

A day earlier, the FO had said that Indian troops had “specifically targeted” the UN vehicle carrying two UNMOGIP officers in what was termed a “new low” in Indian conduct.

The UNMOGIP officers were on their way to Polas village to meet with the victims of Indian ceasefire violations when they came under fire, the Foreign Office said.

The officers were immediately evacuated by the Pakistan Army and brought back to the UNMOGIP field station in Rawalakot, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Sharing pictures of the UN vehicle with bullet holes, the military's media wing said the attack was "deliberate" since "UN vehicles are clearly recognisable even from long distances due to their distinct make and type and clearly visible markings."

"Such illegal and unlawful acts against all established international norms, signify mal-intent of Indian Army to target not only innocent civilians residing along the Line of Control but UN Peace Keepers as well," it said.

"This act only goes to show Indian Army’s complete disregard to principles enshrined in [the] UN Charter. It is indeed a new low for Indian Army."

The ISPR said the Pakistan Army stood in solidarity with UNMOGIP officials and appreciated the "selfless services rendered by all members of UNMOGIP in discharge of their UN-mandated duties".

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