Indian troops fire in presence of UN observers, 2 injured

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Indian DHC summoned over diplomat’s harassment

Staff Reporter

Islamabad

Three members of the United Nations Military Observers Mission for India and Pakistan had a close call along the restive Line of Control in Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday after Indian troops shot at and injured two locals who were briefing them on the situation prevailing in the wake of ceasefire violations, officials and residents said.
The incident occurred at noon in Abbaspur sector of Poonch district where the UN observers had reached in two white vehicles hoisting blue UN flags, Qazi Arslan, a police official in Abbaspur, said.
“The UN observers were interacting with local people in Polas village when suddenly Indian troops resorted to burst firing from across the dividing line located hardly one kilometre away from there,” the official said.
The firing left two people, identified as Sardar Saghir and Muhammad Azam Qureshi of Polas and its neighbouring Taroti village, respectively, critically injured.
“It was yet another incident of targeted firing which has become a hallmark of Indian troops manning the bloody dividing line,” said Chaudhry Saqib Mushtaq, a civil society activist in the area.
Arslan said the UN observers barely saved their lives and rushed to Abbaspur to inquire about the condition of the firing victims who had been evacuated to a health facility by other people. As the news spread in Abbaspur, people took to streets to condemn the incident.
He quoted them as saying that they had already passed a ‘hotline message’ to the Indian authorities regarding their visit to the LoC in this sector.
Arslan said as the injured persons were shifted to Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahayan Hospital Rawalakot, the UN observers also left for the district headquarters of Poonch to record their statements.
Meanwhile, the Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh was summoned by Director General (South Asia & SAARC) Dr. Mohammad Faisal and a strong protest was lodged at the maltreatment being meted out to the officials and families of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.
He emphasized that under the Vienna Convention, the safety and the security of Pakistani diplomats and their families is the responsibility of the Indian Government.
The total apathy and failure of the Indian Government to put a halt to these despicable incidents, sparing not even young children, indicates both a lack of capacity to protect foreign diplomats posted in India or a more reprehensible, complicit unwillingness to do so.
As per press release issued by the department, the officers, staff and more regrettably the families and children of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi continue to face intense harassment, intimidation and outright violence from the Indian state agencies. These have escalated exponentially in the last few days.
This deliberate bullying is not confined to a single isolated event, but continues unabated in a series of incidents, especially targeting the children of our officers and staff. Some of these events are:
a) On 7 & 8 March 2018, the children of the officers of the Mission were harassed while returning from school. Their cars were stopped by unknown persons who threatened the children and filmed them. The protest lodged by our High Commissioner with the Indian Foreign Secretary, instead of ameliorating the situation, was followed by further harassment of the officers of the High Commission, stoppage of provision of gas to the High Commission Residential Complex and threatening of contractors/staff working in the High Commission.
b) On 9 March 2018, the car of the Naval Adviser was aggressively chased. On the same day, Counselor Political was forcibly evicted from a cab and harassed by unknown persons, who used abusive language, threatened him and filmed the whole incident with impunity.
c) On 12 March, the technicians working at the Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi were threatened and stopped from working. The same evening our First Secretary was aggressively followed when he left work for his residence.
d) Today, the car carrying the school-going children of our Counselor, who were returning from school, was followed by unknown persons on cars and motorcycles harassed, intimidated and their vehicle was blocked. For psychological intimidation, videos and photographs of the children were constantly made for 40 minutes, leaving the children extremely traumatized. They were followed upto their residence.
e) Additionally, the drivers of the High Commission were forcibly halted and their mobile phones aggressively switched off to prevent them from contacting anyone.
All these incidents continue unabated despite repeated official protests lodged with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs at the highest level, providing specific details of the culprit’s vehicles Our High Commission has also shared photographs identifying the individuals, who forcibly halted and took pictures of the officer, today.

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