MUZAFFARABAD: At least 11 participants of a wedding ceremony, mostly women and children, were injured after one of the mortar shells fired by Indian army from across the Line of Control (LoC) landed in a house in Kotli district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Sunday, officials said.
Initial reports had suggested that one of the critically injured victims – a seven years old girl – was martyred but it transpired later that she was insensate due to traumatic brain matter injury and was referred to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Rawalpindi, in the afternoon for the complex surgery.
Syed Naseem Abbas, assistant commissioner of Khuiratta subdivision, told Dawn that Indian troops resorted to shelling in Seri sector at about 10am “without any provocation”, using both small and heavy arms.
Initial reports suggested a girl was martyred
At the very outset of the shelling that continued for about one and a half hours, a mortar shell landed in a house, located in the closest proximity of the LoC in Janjot Bahadur village, where a wedding ceremony was in progress indoors due to the lockdown imposed by the government to contain Covid-19, he said.
As a result, 11 innocent civilians sustained multiple injuries, Mr Abbas added.
He identified the victims as Hooriya alias Hoorain, 7, her mother Sajida Kausar, 35, and sibling Shangoor, 5, Zobeena Ajaib, 50, and her daughter Suman, 20, Mobeen Hameed, 9, Mohammad Hanif, 60, Sarwar Jan, 55, Iraj Siddique, 10, Arooj Zaroob, 22, and Khurshid Begum, 50.
Two victims were relieved after treatment at a local health facility while the rest were rushed to the District Hospital, Kotli, he said. According to Dr Nasrullah Sadiq, Medical Superintendent, seven victims were hospitalised in Kotli and were out of danger.
However, Hoorain, whose brain matter was damaged after the splinters caused a penetrating wound through her skull, and Ms Zobeena who had received multiple open fractures were taken to the CMH, Rawalpindi, owing to their critical condition.
Ironically, since the young girl was brought to the health facility in a state of unconsciousness, reports on social media and a section of traditional media claimed she had lost her life.
Due to the very confusion, even AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider also stated that shelling had caused the death of a seven-year-old girl, apart from injuries to 10 others.
However, it transpired much later that she was alive, though critical. Dr Sadiq told Dawn by 9:30pm that the young victim would undergo a complex surgery at the CMH, Rawalpindi.
“Let’s pray she recovers from this traumatic brain matter injury at the earliest,” he said.
Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2020