J&K: Pak shelling victim, 5-year-old Rabia Kousar battles for her life with 38 stitches on her body

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Rabia Kousar is battling for her life at a hospital in Jammu. The five-year-old girl was seriously wounded in Pakistani shelling along the Line of Control (LoC).

Rabia is among four people, who suffered splinter injuries in the shelling on Oct 2 and have been undergoing treatment at government medical college in Jammu for treatment.

Rabia was airlifted to Jammu with Mohammad Rafiq, 25, from Poonch. Two others – Mohammad Sadiq and Nazir Hussain were brought to the hospital in an ambulance this evening after their condition deteriorated.

Rabia’s uncle Mushtaq Hussain, a resident of Bannat village near the LoC, said her elder sister Yasmeena, 15, died and her mother and another sister were injured after a mortar shell fired by Pakistani forces pierced through the wall of their house and exploded near them.

Mohammad Sadiq, Rabia’s father, escaped the shelling as he was not present in the house. He said Yasmeena suffered the major brunt of the shelling by Pakistan and died on the spot.

“(Rabia’s) condition is also not well as the doctors said the chances of her survival were bleak. They are doing their best and we are praying for her life,” he said.

Hussain, 40, said he was lucky to survive the shelling. “I have never seen such intense shelling in my life,” he said.

This year, particularly, has seen a sharp increase in ceasefire violations by Pakistan. Till August 1, there were 285 violations by Pakistani forces compared to 2016, when the number was significantly lower at 228, according to the Indian Army.

Rafiq, a resident of Qasba who was airlifted with Rabia, said he and his family members were having tea when a shell landed in their house and exploded with a bang around them.

“I felt that my legs were amputated due to the impact. When I regained consciousness I saw blood oozing out of my thighs. My nephew Asrar Ahmad was lying dead nearby,” he said.

Rafiq’s brother Mohammad Riyaz said there had been no warning by the Army about the mortar shells by the Army.

He said it took him two hours to pull his brother out of the house and then trekked two kilometres to reach the place where police officials were waiting for them.

They were subsequently airlifted.

Riyaz demanded that underground bunkers be constructed in his village. “At least we can save our lives by taking shelter there.”

Sharma, who claims to be a Bajrang Dal activist and goes by his first name only, demanded that free treatment be given to the victims of border shelling at hospitals.

Muneer Hussain, who was accompanying two of his nephews, said they were returning to their village with their herd of sheep when the shelling started, killing at least three dozen animals.

Slamming Pakistan for targeting civilian areas without provocation, he said his nephews were injured in chests and arms in the shelling.

“We reached here by ambulance after initial treatment at Poonch district hospital,” he said adding several of their family members were undergoing treatment at district hospital Poonch.