A group of foreign media journalists based in Pakistan on Thursday visited the Line of Control (LOC), a de facto border dividing the disputed region of Kashmir. Pakistan Army, which organized the trip, allowed journalists to talk to locals in Chakothi sector, a border village in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
In a news briefing, a Pakistan Army official revealed that India has escalated cease-fire violations of the LOC and is targeting the civilian population near the border with artillery fire, after New Delhi’s move of scrapping the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. “Twenty-seven civilians were martyred and dozens other wounded by Indian forces firing on our areas in 2019,” the official stated.
A group of foreign media correspondents in Pakistan visited LOC. Briefed about situation and Indian ceasefire violations deliberately targeting civilian population. Correspondents also freely interacted with locals.
IOJ&K remains locked down under curfew hiding Indian atrocities. pic.twitter.com/I5o51hPlID
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) August 29, 2019
The officer added that Pakistan never targets civilians on the Indian side of the border as they are “our brothers and sisters”. Pakistan Army officials also stated that UN observers had visited areas near the LOC and met local people.
Abdul Rashid, a resident, told reporters: “I lost my young cousin who was working in the field to indiscriminate firing by Indian forces.” Despite current tensions we are still here and will never leave our villages, he added. While markets and schools in the region remain open, fear looms in the hearts of local residents with cross-border firing an everyday reality.
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From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir had special provisions under which it enacted its own laws. The provisions also protected the region’s citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory. India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk