LoC: Biggest ceasefire violation by Pakistan since 2003

Around 11 am on Feb 24, Indian villagers in Haji Pir sector were startled to hear announcements from across the LoC, warning them to leave the area quickly. Soon, artillery shelling began

NH Photo by Gulzar Bhat
NH Photo by Gulzar Bhat
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Gulzar Bhat

Residents of border area of Haji Pir sector in Uri’s Baramullah district had to flee to nearby villages amid a rat-a-tat of machine guns and heavy mortal shelling by Pakistan on Saturday.

Around 11 am on Saturday, the loudspeakers on the minarets of mosques from across the Line of Control blared out an announcement asking the people living in the eight villages of Haji Pir sector near this side of the LoC to quickly leave the area. The announcement created panic among the residents, and they made a rushed beeline for nearby villages to save their lives. According to the residents, the announcement was soon followed by heavy artillery shelling.

“Barely 40 minutes after the announcement, Pakistani army resorted to heavy shelling. While many of us were able to flee before the firing started, some got trapped in their homes who were later rescued by the local administration” said Irshad Ahmad Chalkoo of Silikote village.

“Barely 40 minutes after the announcement, Pakistani army resorted to heavy shelling. While many of us were able to flee before the firing started, some got trapped in their homes who were later rescued by the local administration” said Irshad Ahmad Chalkoo of Silikote village.

The firing, in which Pakistan has used both heavy artillery and small firearms, continued for around six hours forcing hundreds of residents of Silikote, Tilwari, Churanda, Balakote, Hathlanga and other border villages of Haji Pir sector to take refuge in the Higher Secondary school in Uri town. Although the mortar shells fired by the Pakistan fell in the villages of Silikote and Tilawari, no loss to property or life was reported.

“The local administration has made somewhat good arrangement for us but how long can we stay here amid biting cold during these frosty winters” said Mohd Maqbool , a resident of Tilwari village.

On February 22 , Pakistan first violated the ceasefire by resorting to intermittent firing using small firearms. However, it was after a hiatus of 15 years that Pakistan has resorted to such heavy shelling in the Uri sector.

An Indian army officer told National Herald that Pakistan fired without any provocation from their side that was retaliated with full strength. He confirmed that heavy guns and artillery were used in the firing.

In December 2017 , the central government apprised the Lok Sabha about the sharp spike in the ceasefire violations by Pakistan. According to the statistics presented on the floor of house, Pakistan has violated 881 times ceasefire along the LoC and International Border in Jammu and Kashmir in 2017. However, in the face of steep rise in the ceasefire violations in Jammu region, the borders in Uri sector of Kashmir by and large remained peaceful.

Zaffar Iqbal, an Uri-based local Journalist said that since 2003, barring a few small ceasefire violations by Pakistan, the LoC was well-nigh peaceful. “After a gap of 15 years, here we witnessed such a massive exchange of artillery” Iqbal added.

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