Usually, mosque loudspeakers are synonymous with azan, or the call for congregational Islamic prayers. But Muslims of frontier Poonch near the Line-of-Control in Jammu region had to use this public address system for a humanitarian call. The helpless people prayed to the Pakistani soldiers to stop shelling so that a youth killed in an attack by them could get a decent burial.
Frontier areas along the LoC in trouble-torn Jammu and Kashmir have been a constant victim of ceasefire violations. On December 30, 2016, Tanveer Ahmed, a youth was killed in Pakistani shelling in Poonch. With no let up in use of artillery from the other side, the bereaved were unable to find breather even to perform last rites of the deceased.
Amid sobs, hundreds of villagers including Hindus and Muslims rushed in, but everyone looked helpless. The track leading to the graveyard at nearby Noorkote village near LOC was in the line of fire.
As per villagers, the delay in burial rose apprehensions of the decomposition of the body, something which could further the troubles.
Finally, the locals made announcements from the mosque loudspeakers, asking the Pakistani soldiers to show “some humanity, at least towards the dead, whose last rights were getting hindered due to the bombing.”
Sometime after the announcement, there was an uneasy calm. A hint that Pakistan had responded. But then threat loomed large. Risking lives, the mourners decided to go ahead with the funeral. Reciting Quranic verses loudly, so that soldiers on the other side can hear it, victim’s mortal remains were shouldered to the graveyard. Luckily, the mourners returned alive.
Jehangir Mir, Member of State Legislative Council, who was among the mourners, wants to tell Pakistan that this hide-and-seek shelling along the LOC must end. “Let there be a one time settlement for sustainable peace.”
The poor villagers say they live in hell. “We live in a state of constant terror unleashed by their (Pakistani) shelling. Two-three bombs are dropped every now and then causing causalities of people and livestock, it is death and destruction everywhere,” says Sunil Kumar, a local.
India-Pakistan had signed a ceasefire agreement in 2003. But frequent shelling overshadows initiatives of peace between the two nuclear powers. In the last three months alone, around 20 people, including 14 security personnel, have been killed in such incidents.