Kashmir: It has been a harrowing experience for the family of 45-year-old Mohammad Sadiq killed in Pakistani shelling along the LoC at Gundishut village in Tangdhar sector on October 19. This was the worst ceasefire violation by Pakistan in years in that sector in which two soldiers were also killed.

Sadiq’s daughter was to be married a fortnight later. The family was busy preparing for the big day. When shelling intensified, the family ran to a safe house leaving behind all their belongings.

Sensing that some of the Pakistani shells were landing on civilians' homes, Sadiq returned to save and take away the goods kept for his daughter's wedding. He was hit by a mortar and died on the spot. The excitement and celebrations turned into grief. The wedding was postponed.

“We were waiting for the wedding day. All the preparations had been made. Relatives had started coming home. Everything is gone now, a pall of gloom has descended on us,” said Shazia, younger daughter of Sadiq. “We have lost the anchor of our family”.

Gundishut and its neighbouring villages along the LoC were often targeted by Pakistan in the pre-ceasefire times. Peace returned after India and Pakistan reached a ceasefire agreement.

For the villagers of Gundishut, the latest round of unprovoked firing has brought back the fear-filled memories of the pre-ceasefire days. “Dozens of shells fell in Gundishut, we lost everything," said Nazir Ahmad, a local resident.

Despite being at a vulnerable location, there aren’t many safety systems like underground bunkers in Gundishut to safeguard people against shelling.

“We had to run to a neighbour’s house, which has a bunker, for safety when firing intensified,” said Ali Mohammad. “We demand that the government must construct bunkers in Gundishut and neighbouring villages for our safety.”

After the Tangdhar incident, Army chief General Bipin Rawat said several launch pads across the LoC were destroyed in an Army action. Six to ten Pakistani soldiers were killed and an equal number of terrorists were also killed, said officials.

With a spike in ceasefire violation in the past few weeks, it is clear that people living near the LoC have to bear the brunt of hostilities whenever there is an escalation between India and Pakistan. And since the abrogation of J&K's special status under Article 370, the LoC is burning in true sense.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs informed the Lok Sabha that between August-October, 950 incidents of ceasefire violations have been reported, mostly from villages along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.

The centre has reiterated that terrorism emanating from territories under Pakistan’s control remains a core concern in bilateral relations between the two countries.

‘India has consistently stressed the need for Pakistan to take credible, irreversible and verifiable action to end cross border terrorism against India and fulfil its assurance, said G Kishan Reddy, Minister of State, Ministry of Defence.

The minister was answering to a question posed by TRS MP Nama Nageshwara Rao. He added, “Immediate and effective retaliation is undertaken by the security forces in cases of ceasefire violations. All such incidents of ceasefire violations are also taken up with Pakistan at appropriate levels through established and flag meeting."

Zaffar Iqbal

Zaffar Iqbal is a senior journalist from Jammu and Kashmir. In a career spanning 20 years, he has reported on a wide range of issues ranging from conflict, armed encounters, environment, crime, politics culture and human rights. Zafar has worked as bureau chief (J&K)/ North India for NDTV- (New Delhi Television and Tiranga TV)- leading teams of journalists for producing quality TV news and online video content.

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