Unexploded ammunition shatters Lolab family

Young Nuzhat Dies On Spot, Little Kulsooma Loses Eye

SHAHID RAFIQ

Shahabad (Lolab), Dec 16: Eerie silence prevails in Shahabad Warnow village after a deafening explosion on December 13 left everyone dumbstruck.
 Nestled with the thick conifer and pine woods covered with snow, every resident in the village is shell-shocked as a pall of gloom descends on the family of Ghulam Muhammad Shah as he lost his daughter to the unexploded ammunition in the nearby woods.
 Sitting on the verandah of her modest home in Shahabad, Warnow, 130 kms north of Srinagar, Asha Begum, 50, and her husband stares towards the forest from where the body of their elder daughter Nuzhat arrived. The other two sisters Kulsooma, 12, and Shaista, 10, were brought home with grave injuries.
 “It was the will of Allah. He gave us three daughters and snatched one of them,” says Shah. “We can’t do anything against Allah’s will. My three daughters had gone to the nearby forests to collect firewood.” The slain Nuzhat was Shah’s eldest daughter. “She was 14-years-old and studying in class 6th,” he says as his wife watches him narrating details of the incident.
 “Kulsooma has received injuries in her left eye. I think she has lost her left eye forever. Shaista has also received injuries in her eye. But she was discharged from the sub-district hospital after getting first-aid,” says Shah. Kulsooma has been shifted to SMHS hospital Srinagar where their elder brother Sajid Ahmed Shah is attending her.
 In the incident, another girl, Ruksana, daughter of Muhammad Ramzan Shah, had a narrow escape.
 “Nuzhat was leading us from the front. She spotted some tree-branches of dry wood. As soon as she tried to cut them with the axe, something exploded with a big bang,” says Ruksana. “We all fell unconscious. When we regained consciousness, we found Nuzhat in a pool of blood. We also saw Kulsooma injured.”
 She says within no time, Nuzhat breathed her last. The forests witnessed many encounters with the result many unexploded shells remained scattered.
 At least eight people in Kupwara district have fell to abandoned shells at various places during the past two years. According to figures, 27 others have been injured in such incidents. In September last year, Mudasir Ahmad Khan and Ali Muhammad died when abandoned shells went off at Maidanpora in Lolab area of Kupwara district. As many as eight persons were injured in the incident. In another incident, two boys were killed in the border area of Machil in Kupwara district in 2010 when they accidentally came in contact with an explosive device. However, after the incidents, the government had asked various security agencies to sensitize the area after the gun battles are over.  Investigation into such deaths have found that majority of those killed and injured were children.
 The children, according to police, are caught unaware as they take the abandoned explosives and ammunition as playing items. It also came to fore that many of the children were handicapped for life.  To avoid such deaths, the Minister of State for Home had last year asked the police, army, and other paramilitary forces to draft a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for avoiding the loss of human lives after IEDs remain undetected due to non-clearance of debris at encounter sites.

Lastupdate on : Sun, 16 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 16 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 17 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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