As India locked down the entire Held Kashmir region Saturday on the occasion of first death anniversary of Hizb commander Burhan Wani, its forces shelled Azad Kashmir areas killing five civilians – four of them women.

At least nine others were injured in the heavy Indian shelling in different parts of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), invoking an “effective response” from Pakistani troops.

JP Singh, India’s Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad, was summoned and strong protest was lodged with him against the ceasefire violation through the unprovoked firing.

“There has been heavy firing and shelling by Indian troops in different parts of Abbaspur and Hajira sectors since 5:30am in the morning, resulting in causalities,” said Raja Tahir Mumtaz, the deputy commissioner of district Poonch, where these two sectors fall in.

Reports from Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) said a civilian couple had died there too in the Pakistani response to Indian aggression.

DC Raja Mumtaz said Mohammad Sharif, a 75-year-old resident of Bhaira village near the Tetrinote crossing point in Hajira sector, lost his life after a mortar shell landed on his mud-house, destroying it completely.

Apart from him, 70-year-old woman Sassi Begum was also killed in Tetrinote. She had come from Mandhol village in Battal sector to see her relatives in Tetrinote.

DC Mumtaz said Riyasat, 35, and Aqsa Iftikhar, 18, were injured in Tetrinote.

Meanwhile, a 26-year-old woman, Faiza Saleem, was killed and two young girls — Adiba, 22, and Mahnoor, 17 — were injured in Satwal village of Abbaspur sector. They belonged to the same family, Mumtaz said.

Another woman, Kulsoom, 35, was killed and her 14-year-old son Zahid injured in the Dhakki Chafar village of Abbaspur sector, he added.

“Initially, Zahid was injured and when Kulsoom rushed to rescue him, she too fell victim to the shelling and died on the spot,” the deputy commissioner said.

Abida Parveen, 22, was injured in Chafar and two teenaged boys, Rizwan Hanif, 16, and Faizan Ali, 14, were injured in Batol and Chaatra villages of the same sector, he added.

“These are the initial reports, but given the magnitude of shelling, I am afraid the casualties may rise,” the deputy commissioner said.

In Kotli district, a 22-year-old girl, Aniba Jamshed, was critically injured in Indian firing in the Lanjot village of Nakyal sector at about 6:30am.

According to Indian media, a couple was killed and their two children were injured when Pakistani army responded to the violation of ceasefire by the Indian forces on LoC.

“Very heavy shelling is going on. So far two civilians have died in Pakistani shelling in Khadi Karmara village along the LoC,” an Indian army spokesman said in Srinagar.

Pakistan on Saturday summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad, JP Singh, over the unprovoked firing.

The Foreign Office said that Director-General (South Asia & Saarc) Mohammad Faisal “condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces”.

“The director-general urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 ceasefire arrangement, investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations, instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC,” an official statement said.

On the other hand, Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said that “Pakistan Army troops responded effectively to Indian unprovoked firing”.

Wani’s anniversary

The border violence occurred as protesters clashed with police in Indian-occupied Kashmir as they marked the first anniversary of the death of Burhan Wani, a hugely popular freedom fighter who was killed by the Indian army for urging his people to rise up against the occupying forces.

Rallies were also taken out across Azad Kashmir as well as Pakistan to honour Wani and express support for the freedom struggle of Kashmiris, who have lost thousands of lives for their right to self-determination.

The death last year of the charismatic 23-year-old, who had built up a big following on social media, sparked an outpouring of grief and anger that spilled into the streets and led to months of clashes with security forces.

Nearly 100 people died in the months that followed and many more sustained serious eye injuries from the pellet guns used by government forces to quell the protests.

Separatist leaders - most of whom were either detained or confined to their homes in the run-up to the anniversary - had called for a week of protests from Saturday to mark Wani’s death.

To fail the protests, thousands of troops had fanned out across the occupied territory, and authorities imposed a widespread curfew and cut off all internet services.

On Friday, they also sealed off Wani’s hometown of Tral in south Kashmir after his supporters said they would stage demonstrations to mark the anniversary.

All roads leading to Tral had been closed and authorities seized thousands of motorbikes to prevent people travelling between villages in the area.

Witnesses and police said clashes broke out when protesters tried to reach the family home Saturday morning and were blocked by government forces. Police fired tear gas canisters as protesters threw rocks at them.

Wani’s father said there was a huge military presence outside the family home. “There were so many soldiers outside I couldn’t go out. It wasn’t possible for me to visit my son’s grave today,” Muzzafar Wani told AFP by phone.

Protesters wearing face masks threw stones at police in downtown Srinagar, the summer capital of the region. Police retaliated with teargas and stones thrown using slingshots.

One senior police official told AFP authorities had not ordered an official curfew in the city, but had invoked a colonial-era law that bans assembly of more than four people and is often used to prevent rioting.

Around a dozen protesters were injured, one of them critically, when government forces fired pellet guns into a crowd of protesters in the town of Shopian in south Kashmir.

The crowd became angry when troops entered a mosque to remove a sound system that was being used to play songs calling for a free Kashmir.

In parts of south Kashmir - the epicentre of the renewed insurgency - villagers began intervening in anti-militant raids, throwing stones at government forces to create a distraction and give the rebels a chance to flee.

“It is a direct confrontation now,” said Kashmiri historian Sidiq Wahid. “Public anger and defiance has reached levels never seen in Kashmir before.”

PM’s message

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said that the blood rendered by Burhan Muzaffar Wani has infused a new spirit in the freedom movement.

“The Kashmiri people are steadfast to take their movement to logical conclusion. India cannot suppress the voice of Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination,” the PM said in his message.

He said, “Indian atrocities in the occupied territory highlighted the issue on the international forums. The martyrdom of Wani is a testimony of the fact that Kashmiris have completely rejected the Indian occupation.”

The prime minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s political, diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiris and said, “Pakistan expresses its solidarity and stands by Kashmiri on this occasion.”

He said, “The celebration on the occasion of Pakistan’s victory in ICC Champions Trophy by Kashmiris in the valley was a referendum.”

He once again emphasised the need for implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on Kashmir. He urged India to accept the right of self-determination of Kashmiris as per the UNSC resolutions.

Army chief’s message

“Kashmiris have the right to self-determination,” tweeted ISPR DG Major General Asif Ghafoor quoting Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“Sacrifices of Wani and generations against Indian atrocities are a testimony of their [Kashmiris’] resolve,” the tweet further read.

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arrangement, investigate this and other incidents of ceasefire violations, instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC,” an official statement said.

On the other hand, Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said that “Pakistan Army troops responded effectively to Indian unprovoked firing”.