5 of family killed, two injured in Pak mortar shelling in LoC's Poonch area

Deccan Chronicle.  | Yusuf Jameel

Nation, Current Affairs

The Pakistani authorities have reported that nine civilians were injured in the Indian shelling at four different locations.

Nooren Akhtar (14) injured in cross border shelling between Indian and Pakistani soldiers along LoC arrives for treatment in Jammu on Sunday. (Photo: AP)

Srinagar: Five members of a family were killed and two others critically wounded in Pakistani mortar shelling in Mendhar area of the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district on Sunday.

The Army said the Pakistani troops resorted to “unprovoked” mortar shelling on the Indian forward posts and civilians areas from 7.40 am on Sunday in their latest violation of November 2003 ceasefire understanding. “The Indian troops retaliated to unprovoked Pakistani shelling promptly and effectively,” said a defence spokesman in Jammu.

The Pakistani authorities have reported that nine civilians were injured in the Indian shelling at four different locations in Nakyal sector on their side of the LoC.

The officials in Jammu and Poonch said that mortars fired by the Pakistani troops started raining 0n villages in Balakote sector of Mendhar at 7.40 am. One of the shells landed at the house of one Muhammad Ramzan in Devta village killing the 45-year-old resident, his spouse Malika Bi (45) and three sons - Muhammad Rehman (19), Muhammad Rizwan (18) and Muhammad Razaq (8).

Two of Ramzan’s daughters Noorain Akhtar (14) and Marin Akhtar (7) who were critically injured in the incident were quickly taken to the district hospital in neighbouring Rajouri where from they were airlifted to government-run Medical College Hospital in winter capital Jammu for specialised treatment.

J&K’s works minister and chief spokesman of the PDP-BJP government Syed Naeem Akhter, among several government functionaries who visited the injured girls in the hospital, said that one of victims had to undergo surgery and that she is now recuperating. “The government will take full care of these minor girls who have no one left in the family to look after them,” he said adding that all the administrative measures are being taken to reach out to the affected population in the area.

Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti expressed deep shock and grief over the killings. She termed the incident as “heart wrenching” and said that it caused a wave of shock among the people of the State. She reiterated, “Dialogue and reconciliation are the only means to get the State and the region out of this vicious cycle of blood spilling” and appealed all sections of society and governments to support the entreaty.

The officials in Muzaffarabad said that nine civilians including two minor girls were injured in the Indian firing in Nakyal sector of the PoK’s Poonch district. They said that a mortar shell fired by the Indian troops landed and exploded on the roof of the house of one Haji Aslam in Palani village, critically injuring his three daughters- Massarat, 22, Nargis, 25, and Samra,15. They said two persons Aleeba Majeed, 11, and Muhammad Zahoor Mughal, 35, were injured in Jair Merg and Dharoti Naari villages, respectively and three more  Abdul Aziz, 18, Abdul Ghani, 52, and his spouse Farzand Begum, 42, in Balakote belt. Yet another civilian Shamin Akhter, 50 was injured in Naar Dasbi village on their side of the LoC, they said adding that of the nine injured six were removed to district hospital in Kotli.

Nakyal’s assistant commissioner Waleed Anwar told reporters that the Indian troops started heavy mortar shelling at around 7 am, targeting civilian population “in almost all villages along the LoC in Nakyal sector.” He said that shelling was going on when reported last came in.  

 Indian and Pakistani troops and border guards now routinely clash along the LoC and 198-km stretch of the International Border (IB) which is called ‘Working Boundary in Islamabad in Jammu and Kashmir and after each incident they blame each other for initiating the firing. Since January 18 this year, dozens of civilians have been killed and injured on the two sides of the divide lines.

 The latest ceasefire violation took place a day after Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, said the Indian troops forces can cross the LoC, if required to secure India’s borders and said the Central government wants to find out “permanent solution” to Kashmir problem.

While speaking at TV18 Network’s `Rising India Conclave’ in New Delhi, he said, “Our security forces are protecting the borders very well. They are doing a great job inside. If required, they can cross the LoC to protect out territorial integrity. Our security forces have capability to do that. Don’t take it lightly”.

Late Sunday evening, the Army said that five of its men were also injured in the Pakistani mortar shelling in Balakote sector along the LoC in Mendhar area of Poonch.

The injured soldiers have been identified as Lance Naik Gaurav Vishnak (34), Naik Jitender Verma (23), and Riflemen Budha Rai (33),Rahul Pandey (24) and Subedar Deshbandu (47). All the five were airlifted to Udhampur, the headquarters of the Northern Command, where they have been admitted to the Army Base hospital.