MUZAFFARABAD: In yet another “unprovoked” ceasefire violation within two months, Indian troops martyred a villager in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Monday morning while he was working in his field along the Line of Control (LoC).

“At about 8am today, Ghayas Deen, son of Saif Ali, aged 62 years, who was cutting grass near the LoC, was shot and martyred by the Indian army,” said Riaz Mughal, a police official in Kotli district.

The victim was a resident of Oli village, in Nakyal sector. The region is an administrative unit of Kotli district and has seen a large number of casualties in shelling by the Indian forces before a ceasefire understanding was reached in Feb 2021.

“The Indian troops ope­n­ed a burst of fire upon him without any provocation, leaving him dead on the spot,” SP Riaz Mughal said.

Tariq Mahmood, an official at Nakyal police station, told Dawn that Oli village is less than one kilometre from the LoC and the spot where Mr Deen was shot lies just a few metres from the LoC.

“Many villagers have fertile lands along the LoC and cultivate them during days of peace,” he said. Ghayas Deen had gone there to collect fodder, a normal practice for villagers living along the LoC.

Three other persons were on their way to work when the boom of gunfire resounded across the village.

“When they approached the area from where the sound came, they saw Mr Deen lying dead,” Tariq Mehmood, the police official at Nakyal, said.

“He had received five to six bullets in the upper part of his body.”

In a statement, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the attack was “blatant Indian aggression” and in clear violation of the existing ceasefire understandings.

“Pakistan desires peace and tranquillity at its borders, however, all necessary measures will be taken to protect the life and property of our citizens,” the military’s media wing added.

“Any misadventure against the people of Pakistan will be befittingly responded at the time and place of our choosing.”

The latest ceasefire violation by the Indian army was condemned in the strongest terms by political leaders in Azad Kashmir.

“As another innocent Kashmiri has lost his life at the hands of trigger-happy Indian soldiers on our side of the LoC today, I call upon the UN to take stock of the situation and do its stuff to establish lasting peace in our motherland by granting Kashmiris their inalienable right to self-determination through a free, fair and impartial plebiscite,” wrote former AJK prime minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

On June 24, two villagers were martyred and one was injured in shelling by Indian troops in Tetrinote area of Poonch district. The incident was the first major ceasefire violation in over two years.

Landmark decision

The 740-kilometre-long LoC was the scene of regular skirmishes and artillery duels between Pakistani and Indian troops until, in a landmark decision in Nov 2003, the two countries agreed to silence their guns across the disputed territory.

Barring isolated incidents, the agreement held for over a decade.

But ceasefire violations became frequent in 2016, causing deaths and injuries to civilians and losses to their properties in Azad Kashmir.

In a surprise announcement in Feb 2021, the two sides recommitted themselves to reviving the spirit of the Nov 2003 understanding and address the “core issues” that undermine peace and stability.

The LoC had been largely quiet since then, until the calm was broken by the Indian side on Monday.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2023

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