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Six martyred in Indian shelling

SIALKOT/HELD SRINAGAR: Six people, including a mother and her three young children, were martyred and 22 other civilians sustained severe injuries in one of the worst incidents of unprovoked firing and shelling by the India’s Border Security Forces (BSF) at different sectors of the Sialkot Working Boundary on Friday.

Kulsoom (40), her daughters Shama Naz (18) and Muskan (10) and son Ali Hamza (14) embraced martyrdom in the border area village Khanoor in the Merajke Sector when a mortar shell hit their house. Two other civilians – Naveed (25) and Ehtesham (12) -- were also martyred in village Harnanwali in the same sector.

As many as 22 people, including women and children, sustained injuries in Khanoor, Patwal, Harpal, Surakhpur, Harnanwali and Bhagiari villages. They were rushed to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Sialkot Cantt by Rescue 1122.

The injured have been identified as Riasat (11), Zainab Bibi (28) and her daughter Arooj (4), Safia Bibi (50), Farwah (22) and her brother Aqeel (16), Fakhira Bibi (35), Salman Younas (15), Ali Hasan (17), Shakeel Ahmad (14), Ali Akbar (20), Shams-ud-Din (44), Muhammad Rafique (65), Zahida Bibi (45), Nazar Hussain (65), Rehan (16), Ameen (23), Adnan (18), Hajra Bibi (55), Jannat Bibi (35), Tayyaba (14) and Ayesha (4).

A number of cattle were also reported killed and dozens of houses and other buildings were damaged due to the Indian aggression.

The BSF opened unprovoked firing and shelling during early Friday morning hours in the Merajke, Harpal, Suchaitgarh, Chaprar and Bajwat sectors of the Sialkot Working Boundary, deliberately targeting innocent and unarmed citizens who were busy in preparations for fasting and morning prayers in the holy month of Ramazan.

The unprovoked Indian firing continued with short intervals for quite a while. Meanwhile, Pakistani Chenab Rangers answered the ceasefire violations in a befitting manner, as reports suggest that some Indian posts caught fire after the response.

On the other hand, the ISPR in a statement said a woman and three children were martyred and 10 others were injured in cross-border Indian firing. It added that the Rangers responded to the aggression and an exchange of fire was taking place intermittently.

Meanwhile, AFP reported five deaths on the Indian side of the border. “Four border residents and a Border Security Force soldier were killed in the Pakistani firing," the Indian-administered region’s director general of police Shesh Paul Vaid told AFP. Twelve people were injured on the Indian side.

And in Islamabad, the Foreign Office in a statement said Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria was summoned on Friday to condemn the unprovoked ceasefire violations along the Working Boundary and the Line of Control.

Meanwhile, after a couple of weeks of relative calm, barbarity commenced across the Working Boundary as unprovoked firing by India resulted in the martyrdom of four members of a family and injuries to 10 other Pakistanis.

It is reported that firing continues in the area of Pukhlian, Cahprar, Harpal, Charwah and Shakargarh Sectors of the Working Boundary, threatening peace. International media reported that Pakistani forces retaliated and in return fire they left many Indian check-posts burning and a Border Security Force soldier dead. The IHK director general of police Shesh Paul Vaid told AFP 12 people were injured on the Indian side.

Inside Jammu and Kashmir, India has announced one month of halt to all military operations in reverence to Ramazan.

The martyrdom of Kalsoom Hussain, her daughters Mehwish Hussain, Safia Hussain and son Hamza Hussain comes on the eve of the visit by Prime Minster Modi to the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) today (Saturday). The acting foreign secretary summoned the Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria to the Foreign Office where he was told, “The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws. The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation.”

While India has shunned any chance of dialogue with Pakistan, on Thursday Major-General Asif Ghafoor, Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), told journalists that the Pakistan Army is ready to formally inject itself into any dialogue process with India.

The Foreign Office in its statement added that the Indian forces along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary are continuously targeting the civilian populated areas with heavy weapons.

“In 2018, the Indian forces carried out more than 1050 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the shahadat of 28 innocent civilians, while injuring 117 others,” the spokesman said.

This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India is continuing from the year 2017, when the Indian forces committed 1970 ceasefire violations.

“The acting foreign secretary urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 Ceasefire arrangement; investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC and the Working Boundary,” added the spokesman.

He urged that the Indian side should permit UNMOGIP to play its mandated role as per the UN Security Council resolutions. Meanwhile, as Modi inaugurates the 330-MW Kishenganga Power Project constructed in the Gurez area of Kashmir, Pakistan says that it has “serious concerns” about this.

“Pakistan believes that the inauguration of the project without the resolution of the dispute is tantamount to violation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT),” says a statement from the Foreign Office.

Despite several rounds of bilateral negotiations as well mediation under the auspices of the World Bank, India continued with the construction of the project.

“This intransigence on part of India clearly threatens the sanctity of the Treaty. Pakistan reiterates that as the custodian of the Treaty, the World Bank must urge India to address to Pakistan’s reservations on Kishenganga Hydroelectric Project (KHEP),” adds the Foreign Office.

Modi is also inaugurating the 14-kilometre long Zojila tunnel, India’s longest road tunnel and Asia’s longest bidirectional tunnel, which will provide all-weather connectivity between Ladakh and the Valley.  

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