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Sunday, August 1, 2021

In disputed Kashmir, a child mistakes a bomb for a toy

Duration: 02:11s 0 shares 1 views
In disputed Kashmir, a child mistakes a bomb for a toy
In disputed Kashmir, a child mistakes a bomb for a toy

The small town of Jabri is usually far enough away from the routine exchanges of fire between India and Pakistan in the disputed Kashmir region.

That changed last month, when Indian artillery hit the village and a four-year-old, Ayan Ali, mistook an unexploded device for a toy.

David Doyle reports.

Bombs don't normally come to the small mountain village of Jabri.

Lying in the Neelum Valley, above a river that separates Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, it's usually far enough away from routine exchanges of fire between the two countries' armies, that have intensified in recent years.

All that changed last month.

That was when Indian artillery shells hit the village, and an unexploded device found its way into the hands of a four year old boy, Ayan Ali.

(SOUNDBITE) (Urdu) UNCLE OF AYAN ALI, THE CHILD WHO WAS KILLED BY BOMB, ABDUL QAYYUM, SAYING: "He found a bomb that looked like a toy and he brought it here.

He showed it to his siblings as the family sat down to breakfast.

The children tried to snatch it from him.

It fell down and exploded.

He was martyred on the spot, others were wounded." Eight of Ali's siblings, his mother and a young cousin were injured in the blast.

Pakistan's military says the device was a cluster bomb - banned under the Geneva Convention.

The Indian government and army deny that allegation, saying the shelling was proportionate and in response to Pakistani fire.

India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir, and regularly accuse each other of violating a ceasefire along the 460-mile Line of Control that divides the region.

Across that de-facto border from Jabri, Kashmir's biggest city was on lockdown on Monday (August 12) - a sign of heightened tensions in the region.

As Eid al-Adha began in Muslim-dominated Kashmir, Indian police and soldiers dotted Srinagar's silent streets.

They are there to prevent any major protests after India moved last week to curtail state of Jammu and Kashmir's autonomy.

Pakistan responded to that by expelling India's ambassador and suspending trade.

Despite the restrictions, hundreds spilled onto the streets in one Srinagar neighborhood - shouting anti-India slogans.

What should be a time of celebration across Kashmir, is instead one of anger- and in one remote village, of mourning.