MUZAFFARABAD: The unprovoked Indian shelling in civilian-populated areas along the Line of Control (LoC) has damaged hundreds of houses and schools in the Nakyal and Battal sectors.
In the Nakyal sector, Indian army has been shelling residential areas for the past three weeks. In addition to small arms, Indian troops are using 120mm mortar shells to hit structures, including schools and guest houses.
“Indian forces are deliberately targeting residential areas. Heavy mortar shelling has damaged a large number of houses, shops, besides wreaking havoc on trees and crops,” said Shakeel Ahmad, who is now forced to live in a makeshift camp set up at the Govt Primary School Khandar Kotayra in Nakyal.
Residents in the affected areas contended that Indian troops opened fire whenever they detected movement in fields.
People in Khimb, Morah, Lanjot and Bahidara areas are living in makeshift camps set up in Kotayra where the government of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan Army are providing them free meals, shelter and medical aid.
“More than 60 families (were forced to) flee from various villages to Nakyal where they have been temporarily accommodated. They are being served food twice a day and spend nights in homes of people in Nakyal,” said Assistant Commissioner Nakyal Sardar Zeeshan Nisar.
Schools and colleges are closed because of the indiscriminate shelling of Indian forces in the Nakyal sector
Wondering what Indian forces gained by targeting schools and other civilian targets in the area, Saima, a tenth grader, said: “We urge the world community, especially members of the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to visit the LoC and see how Indian military is targeting civilians in the Nakyal sector.”
Saima and her family are currently lodged at a camp in Kotayra.
Firing by Indian troops forced the local administration to shut down at least 24 girls and 34 boys’ schools in the Nakyal sector.
“Living under recurrent gunfire is traumatic. Our education suffers a lot. Indian shelling may destroy our schools but it will not defeat us … I request Malala Yousafzai to press India to stop shelling schools and civilian areas along the LoC. Indian guns is interfering with our educations,” said an undergraduate student, Sahiba. She and her family members are now forced to live in a makeshift camp in Kotayra.
Over the past couple of days, Indian troops have killed more than nine civilians and injured dozens more in various sectors along the LoC.
Foreign secretary briefs envoys
The Foreign Secretary briefed the heads of missions of the permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russian Federation, the UK and US) Friday morning about the continuing unprovoked firing and ceasefire violations by the Indian troops on the LoC and the Working Boundary areas over the past two months.
Expressing grave concern over the increased frequency of indiscriminate firing and shelling from the Indian side, he said that Indian troops were deliberately targeting civilian populated areas, killing at least 26 and injuring 107 in complete disregard of the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding and of international law.
Condemning the use of artillery in Shalkot and Jura sectors on November 9, the Foreign Secretary stated that heavy weaponry was being used by Indian troops after 13 years, compelling Pakistan to respond with maximum restraint.
Terming Indian actions a threat to peace and regional security, he said: “The Armed Forces of Pakistan gave a befitting response.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2016.