Muhammad Ibrahim is from the Zafarwal tehsil of Narowal and works as a labourer. One day in March 2020, his attention was drawn to a round box while filling sand into trailers from the Dek Canal during the rainy season. He immediately informed his fellow labourers about it. One of the labourers identified it as explosive material, urging everyone to stay away from it. He informed the local Zafarwal police station, and the police arrived at the scene. Upon inspection, the police found an 18-pound explosive shell, which was later rendered safe by the district’s Bomb Disposal Squad.
In the nearby village of Diwali, schoolteacher Muhammad Farooq was renovating his house when he discovered an explosive shell in the sand. Upon reporting it, the District Bomb Disposal Squad rendered it safe.
He explains that he had ordered this sand from the Dek Canal for construction purposes. In the Hakeeman Bazaar, Malik Muhammad Islam and his family run a wholesale fruit business. They mentioned that last month, while they were present in the nearby villages for business purposes, they suddenly heard the loud noise of an explosion.
Upon hearing the explosion, people rushed to the scene and discovered that the village children were bathing in the canal when they noticed an explosive shell. Mistaking it for a toy, they began playing with it, causing it to detonate suddenly.
Four children lost their lives in this incident, and two others sustained severe injuries. He explains that residents often take their animals to this seasonal canal for bathing. If an animal steps on an anti-tank mine or an anti-personnel mine in the canal, it explodes, resulting in the animal’s death and significant financial loss for the owner. He also mentioned that such incidents have occurred frequently in the Dek Canal and surrounding villages for several years.
The Dek Canal, originating from Indian-administered Kashmir, enters Pakistan’s territory in the district of Narowal. It runs through various Pakistani regions, including Deowali, Mangowal, Jandiala, and Teda, and eventually reaches Zafarwal. Later, it enters Sialkot district and merges with the River Ravi through its specific course.
The District Officer Civil Defense Narowal, Asim Riaz Wahla, stated that compared to the previous year, there is an increase in reports of explosive materials found in the Dek Canal this year. Last year, the Civil Defense Disposal Squad of Sialkot rendered 29 explosive items safe. During July and August of the current year, the Sialkot Bomb Disposal Squad identified 22 explosive items flowing into the Dek Canal. Among them, eight were near the village Lohari, four each near villages Sakro and Supwal, and two each near Deowali, Teda, and Jandiala. These items included personal mines, anti-tank mines, mortar shells, and other explosive materials.
The Sialkot Bomb Disposal Squad found that all the explosive items they received were usable, with weights ranging from one pound to 18 pounds. These items were all of Indian origin.
The seasonal rains in the monsoon season cause the water levels in the Dek Canal, which enters Pakistan’s territory from Indian-administered Kashmir into Narowal district, to rise significantly.
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Former councillor Chaudhry Muhammad Amer from the village of Jandiala alleged that Indian Border Security Forces deliberately throw explosive items or materials into this fast-flowing water during such times.
He stated that the bursting of these shells over the past few years has resulted in the loss of several human lives, the deaths of numerous animals, and significant financial losses.
Muhammad Ashraf, Deputy Commissioner Narowal, mentioned that the district administration, in collaboration with the Sialkot Civil Defense Bomb Disposal Squad and other relevant authorities, will conduct search operations in and around the Dek Canal during the monsoon season. Any explosive materials found during these operations will be rendered safe and transported to secure locations.
Published on 19 Sep 2023