In PaK too, villagers along LoC move to safer places

Hundreds of families residing in the “most vulnerable” areas along the restive Line of Control in Pakistan-administered Kashmir were reported to have moved to safer areas as three more civilians were wounded Wednesday amid unrelenting ceasefire violations by Indian forces, officials said.

Samina Bibi, 25, and her three-year-old daughter Kanwal were injured in Manda village while Nasreen Bibi was injured and a mosque damaged in Ghee Kot village of Khilana sector in the small hours of Wednesday, said Ahmed Raza Qadri, PaK minister for civil defence.

Khilana is located towards the right of Chakothi-Uri crossing point at the heavily militarised LoC.

Residents said the exchange of heavy fire continued in Khilana, Chakothi and adjoining areas throughout the night and also in intervals on Wednesday.

Shabbir Ahmed, a resident of Chakothi, said his was among many families from the town which had moved to Hattian Bala.

He said only those families had stayed back which had concrete bunkers built within or along their houses.

Qadri claimed the morale of the people living along the LoC was very high and a vast majority of them did not want to leave their homes.

“However, we have requested ourselves to those inhabiting the most exposed areas to move back until the situation improves,” he said.

According to him, as many as 61 families from different villages of Chakothi had left their homes and 21 of them had been accommodated in buildings of two educational institutions in Hattian Bala.

Elsewhere, he said, 18 families in Bhimber district and 12 families in Kotli district had also been relocated in government buildings.

 “The rest are staying with their relatives,” he said.

However, some officials and residents claimed that many families had moved to the rear areas on their own without getting themselves registered with the authorities concerned.

“More than 2000 people are reported to have already moved to the rear areas in Khuiratta, Charhoi and Tattapani sectors while many in Nakyal sector are also planning relocation,” said Dr Umer Azam, deputy commissioner of Kotli, where these sectors are located.

Most of these families either owned houses or had close relatives in the urban areas, he said.

On Tuesday, four persons were killed and 11 others wounded in Kotli district in indiscriminate shelling by Indian forces, according to officials.

Qadri said all educational institutions in the “highly vulnerable” areas along the dividing line had been closed for “indefinite period” to avert any “untoward incident.”