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Indo-Pak shelling leaves trail of destruction in Kashmir villages, witnesses recount horror

By Irfan Yattoo* 
It was 11 am on November 13, when Mohammad Sadeeq Koli, a teacher at Government Middle School Chrunda village of Uri in northern Kashmir, was busy with 8th class examination when all of a sudden shelling started at Line of Control (LoC).
The school which has a total roll of over 100 students is situated barely one kilometer away from the LoC of Haji Peer sector of Uri.
Koli said when the shelling started on November 13 maximum students had attempted few questions and they left the examination centre midway.
The school teacher said the students screamed which left them frightened. First we thought shelling would stop after some time but it continued till late evening.
He said the shelling caused panic among the school staff as well.
“We were confused what to do. After some time, parents reached the school and took out their wards hurriedly,” he said.
“Peace is the solution to avoid such incidents in future and both countries should understand it and should stop targeting civil areas,” Koli said.
He said his family stayed in their cowshed for the whole day without food.
“People of border areas are mostly unemployed and the shelling brings more miseries to the people,” said Koli.
“We always live in fear. Either the administration should shift us from border areas or they should create an atmosphere of peace between the two countries,” he said.
On November 13, five soldiers including a BSF sub-inspector and four civilians, were reportedly killed as Indian and Pakistan Army resorted to shelling along LoC from Gurez to Uri sectors.
Lal Din Khatana, a Sarpanch of Charunda village of Haji Pir sector said three houses were damaged in Friday’s shelling in his locality and several civilians were injured.
“From the past 30 years, we haven’t seen such kind of shelling in this sector as we could not move from one place to another during the whole day. We have never seen such fear and horror,” he said.
He said although the local administration is constructing community bunkers in the area in which five have been already completed but there is need for individual bunkers for every house to protect families.
“To reach to community bunker is itself a big hurdle because during cross border shelling even people fear to move from one room to another,” he said.
The locals here say that the administration should construct more individual bankers across the mountainous region, to save the precious lives in times of shelling.
Balkot is another village near the LoC which has also seen shelling over the years. On November 13 also more than four residential structures were damaged due to shelling.
Bashir Ahmad Dar, of Balkot village said his house was fully damaged in cross border shelling. Dar said both sides civilian areas were targeted till 6 in the evening. It was non-stop firing. It was the first time such scenes were witnessed in the area.
“No one among the local administration came here during the first two days. We have never seen such shelling over the past 30 years,” he said.
Mushtaq Ahmad Niyazi, a local from Silikot said they will never forget the November 13 shelling calling it a doomsday.
“I along with my friend were preparing for bank exams and suddenly firing started on the LoC. We spent the entire day in our neighbor’s cowshed,” he said.
Sub District Magistrate, Uri, Reyaz Ahmad Malik said four causalities including a woman have been reported in Uri belt. Around 13-14 people had been also injured, he said. 
“The causalities were reported in Balkot, Bandi Sarai and Sultan Daki villages of Kamalkot sector and Haji Peer sectors,” he said.
Malik said there are around two dozen structures that have suffered damage due to the shelling. These include four residential structures that are completed damaged.
Inspector General of BSF Kashmir, Rajesh Mishra said that in recent cross border shelling across the LoC, Pakistan used heavy artillery, weapons due to which civilians areas were targeted and forces also suffered losses.
Mishra said on, November 13, Pakistan started unprovoked ceasefire violations across LoC, using artillery, mortars, and other weapons and targeted civilian areas.
---
*Journalist based in Srinagar

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