At least five civilians, including three women, were injured in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in “unprovoked” shelling by Indian troops from across the Line of Control (LoC) on Monday, officials said.
The shelling, which began at about 7am in the Nakyal sector of southern Kotli district, coincided with a weekly hotline contact between the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of Pakistan and India in the wake of Sunday’s mortar attack on an army vehicle in Neelum valley.
Officials said there was no let up in Indian aggression along the LoC in Nakyal sector after yesterday’s attack.
“There has been indiscriminate mortar shelling since 7am in the morning, targeting almost all villages of Nakyal sector,” police official Khurshid Ahmed told Dawn from the area.
“So far, five people have been brought to the Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital Nakyal, with multiple injuries, but I am afraid there might be more injured persons,” he said.
The official identified the hospitalised victims as Shaheen Kosar, 38, and Nazakat Ali Babar, 32, of Oli village, Iftikhar Ahmed, 28 of Marg Jair village, Gul Begum, 50, of Balakot village and Safina Kosar, 28, of Kunda village.
Pakistani DGMO Maj Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza communicated Pakistan’s demarche to his Indian counterpart, Lt Gen Anil Kumar Bhatt, to protest against the “deliberate targeting of Pakistan Army’s vehicle resulting into the martyrdom of four soldiers, besides injuring one soldier and a civilian passerby.”
While emphasising the importance of controlling tactical actions of under command troops, Maj Gen Mirza warned that such indiscretions could “potentially spiral major standoffs,” between the two sides.
“Such acts have the potential to escalate which then will be extremely detrimental to peace and stability,” he maintained, according to a handout by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
He also made it clear that while the Pakistan Army had been exercising restraint, recurrence of any such incident in future could, however, leave it with no choice but to respond with further “strong and effective” steps.
“While we don’t want to go down the path where we start choking each other’s supply lines; however, any such recurrence will invoke more strong and effective measures from Pakistan’s side,” Maj Gen Mirza told Lt Gen Bhatt.
Indian media quoted their DGMO as “making it clear” to his Pakistani counterpart that the Indian Army was “sincere in maintaining in its effort of maintaining peace and tranquillity” along the LoC, provided “reciprocity” from Pakistan.
Indian media also confirmed that Maj Gen Mirza raised the issue of the targeting of a Pakistan Army vehicle in Neelum valley, resulting in the martyrdom of four Pakistani soldiers.