MUZAFFARBAD: As many as 59 civilians, including women and children, were martyred and another 281 suffered injuries in different areas along the restive Line of Control (LoC) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in 2019 as a result of ceasefire violations by Indian troops, an official said on Tuesday, the last day of the year.

Syed Shahid Mohyiddin Qadri, secretary of disaster management and civil defence in the AJK government, told Dawn that 43 of the deceased were male and 16 female. Similarly, 157 of the injured were male and the rest female.

Giving district-wise breakup of the casualties, he said that 13 civilians lost their lives in Kotli, 12 in Neelum, 11 in Haveli, eight each in Muzaffarabad and Poonch, four in Bhimber and three in Jhelum valley.

Of those who had sustained injuries, 61 belonged to Kotli district, 52 to Neelum, 51 to Poonch, 49 to Haveli, 29 to Bhimber, 20 to Muzaffarabad and 19 to Jhelum valley.

Mr Qadri said that shelling had also wrecked havoc on civilian properties, including houses, shops and vehicles, apart from damaging public sector facilities.

Giving details, he said, 105 houses were destroyed — 69 in Neelum district, 11 in Jhelum valley, nine in Haveli, eight in Kotli and four each in Muzaffarabad and Poonch.

As many as 622 houses were partially damaged — 226 in Neelum district, 117 in Poonch, 94 in Kotli, 90 in Haveli, 63 in Bhimber, 31 in Jhelum valley and one in Muzaffarabad.

Apart from the houses, 74 shops were damaged in Neelum district, seven in Kotli and one each in Jhelum valley and Poonch districts.

The official said that Indian shelling also damaged 15 vehicles and two motorcycles in Neelum district, seven vehicles in Poonch, four in Bhimber, two in Kotli and one in Haveli.

Apart from this, the DHQ Hospital Athmuqam and three schools were damaged in Neelum district, a basic health unit and a college in Poonch, two schools and eight cattle sheds in Kotli, one school in Bhimber and three cattle sheds were damaged in Muzaffarabad.

A mosque was also partially damaged in Jhelum valley.

Human lives and properties were not the only victim of Indian shelling, the official said. Some 106 cattle heads were also killed in Neelum, Muzaffarabad, Poonch, Haveli, Kotli and Bhimber.

Meanwhile, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider has paid tribute to the people living along the LoC for their courage and hardiness in the face of unrelenting ceasefire violations by a “beastly enemy” that has least regard for humanity, human values and international law.

“India has unleashed its combating force on non-combatant Kashmiris on both sides of the divide and derives satisfaction from civilian casualties. This warrants immediate attention of the United Nations and international community,” he said in a statement.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2020


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