'Modern day barbarism': Amid intense cross-border fire, J&K parties call for truce and peace

"Targeting the old, women and children is not only uncivilised but also inhumane"

Police stand guard in Kashmir Representational image | PTI

On Friday, at least four security forces personnel were among the 10 people killed in multiple ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir as Pakistan intensified cross-border shelling along the Line of Control (LoC) between Gurez and Uri sectors. India's retaliation fire resulted in heavy damage on the other side too. The Army released videos showing the damage to Pakistani infrastructure along the LoC including several ammunition dumps, FOL dumps and multiple terrorists' launch pads. 

In J&K, six civilians were killed while eight civilians were injured. Srinagar-based defence spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia said Pakistan used mortars and other weapons and deliberately targeted civilian areas.

India on Saturday had summoned the Charge d'Affaires of the Pakistan High Commission and lodged a strong protest with him over the unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces on multiple sectors along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir targeting innocent civilians on the eve of Diwali. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) condemned, in the strongest terms, the "deliberate targeting" of innocent civilians by Pakistani forces and said it was highly deplorable that Pakistan chose a festive occasion in India to disrupt peace and perpetrate violence in Jammu and Kashmir through coordinated firing along the the LoC.

J&K political parties call for truce

Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir called for truce along the borders, highlighting the damages sustained by civilians in the attacks. The National Conference on Friday condoled the casualties along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and called for an immediate end to such skirmishes. Expressing grief and sorrow over the killings, senior National Conference (NC) leaders Choudhary Muhammad Ramzan, Nazir Gurezi, Sajjad Uri, Qaiser Jamsheeed Lone and Qafilul Rehman, in a joint statement, said whenever borders are lit up and tensions soar between the two countries, it is the people living along the LoC and the border who bear the brunt.

"It is really sad to witness innocent lives being devoured like this. We express solidarity with the bereaved families of civilians and soldiers and call upon both countries to immediately stop cross border shelling. The persistent lighting up of borders has made the lives of people no less than a hell," the statement said. "People living along borders are fighting a battle of life and death. We, therefore, call for an immediate cessation of shelling on the borders. We also urge the government to provide effective healthcare to the injured," it said.

Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC) chairman Sajad Lone also condemned the shelling, saying it was modern-day barbarism. "Shelling yet again claims innocent lives in Uri, Tangdar and Poonch. No words are enough to condemn this modern day barbarism. Hope the administration of the day provides relief to the affected families. My prayers with the hapless inhabitants of these areas. May sanity prevail (sic)," he tweeted.

JKPC leader Raja Aijaz Ali termed the flare-up as highly unfortunate and deplorable. "Targeting the old, women and children is not only uncivilised but also inhumane and barbaric. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and injured. We pray for peace to the departed souls and swift recovery of the injured," he said.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday asked India and Pakistan to rise above their political compulsions and initiate dialogue, saying it was sad to see mounting casualties on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC). The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said restoring the ceasefire that was agreed upon and implemented by former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee and ex-Pakistan president General Pervez Musharaf is a good place to start.

The moderate Hurriyat Conference on Saturday said India and Pakistan should hold talks to resolve the Kashmir issue and to stop the "senseless bloodshed" of people along the Line of Control (LoC). In a statement, the Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led amalgam expressed grief and dismay at the escalation along the LoC in which several lives were lost on Friday. "Hurriyat once again urges the government of India and Pakistan to give up belligerence and come to the table to resolve the J-K dispute for times to come and end the senseless bloodshed of humans on all sides," it said. It said the death of innocent Kashmiri civilians on both sides of the LoC, as well as soldiers of both the countries "caught in the lingering conflict" is very sad and shameful.

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