‘Pak Army has stationed artillery guns in civilian areas of PoJK’

'Pak Army has stationed artillery guns in civilian areas of PoJK'
Prof Sajjad Raza and Shabbir Choudhary

New Delhi (NVI): Pakistan Army has stationed its artillery guns in civilian areas of occupied Kashmir and because of this civilians die whenever Indian Army responds to cross-LoC shelling, two senior leaders from the region have said, exposing Islamabad’s ill designs.

Prof Sajjad Raja, Chairman of National Equality Party of Jammu and Kashmir Gilgit-Baltistan, said Pakistan Army has deliberately stationed its artillery guns in civilian areas of PoJK so that common people die and suffer in cross-LoC shelling and as a result hatred is generated against India.

His version was echoed by another senior leader from PoJK Dr Shabbir Choudhary.

The revealing comments have come days after Pakistan said some civilians were killed in Neelum Valley in occupied Kashmir when Indian Army retaliated to shelling from across the Line of Control (LoC).

Raja and Choudhary, both of whom live in exile in London, were exchanging views via video conference and cited their colleagues and other local people as the source of their information.

Raja said two days before the November 13 cross-LoC shelling which caused casualties, his party workers were in the Neelum valley in PoK.

Quoting his party workers, he stated, “They said they have no complaints against India. India wants to spare us. But we are troubled by the Pakistani Army…. Indian Army is forced to retaliate when fired upon by Pakistani Army. But Indian Army tries to avoid civilian population. But Pakistan deliberately wants killing of civilians because when someone dies or is injured or property destroyed, there is hatred for India.”

He added, “Pakistan deliberately wants losses for the local people (of PoJK) so that they hate India.”

Choudhary agreed with Raja and said he too had spoken to some people after the November 13 incident, including those whose properties were destroyed in the Shelling. “When mortar guns fire from civilian areas towards Indian side, naturally Indian mortars will also land there only and people will die,” he said.

Raja added, “It is absolute fact. I also talked to our workers. Mortar guns have been positioned inside civilian areas. When India tries to hit them, civilians also get hit, since these are inside civilian areas. This is just two days’ old report.”

Choudhary said he had spoken to “responsible people” in PoJK, who have seen Pakistan Army using locals as “human shields” against India’s retaliatory shelling.

Raja said he is planning to launch a campaign for removal of Pakistani Army ‘morchas’ and gun positions from civilian areas. “We should also apprise people in Europe, UK etc,” he told Choudhary.

He said he was not bothered whether he would be called “Indian agent” but is concerned about the safety and well-being of “our people”.

Raja also said that it is always the Pakistan Army which provokes trouble at the LoC, because of which the lives of people on both sides of the frontier are endangered.

He said Pakistan Army resorts to shelling to provide cover to ‘jihadis’ and other “Pakistan-trained elements” to help them sneak into the Indian side of Kashmir.

“It begins with Pakistani firing to give cover to the infiltrators to enter J&K,” he said.

Choudhary said he had been told by local sources “much earlier” that a lot of infiltration is taking place and highly-trained people have entered Indian side of Kashmir before snowfall. “I was told much earlier that even the SSG (Special Services Group of Pakistan Army) people are also there. They are highly-trained men of the Pakistan Army,” he added.

“Our destruction is because of this infiltration only. You may recall the situation that existed before 1989 or before 1965 (war)…There was a time when people would freely move across the LoC, including for trade,” Raja said.