New Delhi/Srinagar: The Indian Army on Tuesday warned Pakistan that the Indian response to Pakistani ceasefire violations at the border in J&K would be “effective, adequate and appropriate.”
The warning was conveyed by an Army Brigadier holding the post of Director of Military Operations who spoke on the hotline to his Pakistani counterpart. While usually it is the Director-General of Military Operations of the Indian Army who speaks to his Pakistani counterpart on the hotline, the very fact that it was the DMO this time who spoke on the hotline was meant to be “a firm message” to Pakistan, sources said.
In the hotline talk that lasted a few minutes on Tuesday, the Indian Army’s DMO squarely told his Pakistani counterpart that whatever was happening on the border was started by Pakistan and rejected his counterpart’s claim that India started the firing.
India also put off a proposal for a flag meeting at the last minute and decided to observe Pakistan’s “behaviour” in the coming days before any engagement at the commander level along the border in Jammu and Kashmir. The government is worried over reports that are nearly 2,000 armed militants at terror camps across the border who are waiting to sneak across the LoC into J&K from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Attempts to smuggle more automatic weapons from PoK across the LoC have also increased.
Sources said there about 25 launch pads for pushing through terrorists near the LoC in PoK that are currently active while there are about 20 terror camps where militants are ready to infiltrate.
Defence sources said India is not inclined to ask for a flag meeting, given the Pakistani aggression. Indian security forces are adequately retaliating, sources said.
According to news agency reports from Jammu late on Tuesday night, three soldiers were injured in Pakistani shelling along the LoC in Poonch district of J&K but there was no confirmation of this from sources in New Delhi.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh said at an election rally in Latur, Maharashtra, that if the Pakistani ceasefire violations continue, the Army and every youth of this country are ready to give a befitting reply to Pakistan.
“It has been conveyed in no uncertain terms to Pakistan that ground realties in India have changed. Pakistan should think twice before indulging in any ceasefire violation as the government is being headed by Narendra Modi in India,” Mr Singh was quoted by news agencies
BSF and police officials in Jammu said that the Pakistani Rangers on Tuesday targeted as many as 40 Indian Border Out Posts (BOPs) and 25 border villages along the IB in Jammu and Samba districts of J&K with heavy mortar shelling and firing.
At least, three persons were injured, they said adding the BSF gave a “befitting reply.”
A report from Islamabad said that Pakistan has lodged a “strong protest” with the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan and has claimed “unprovoked” firing on the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) by Indian forces.
Pakistani officials have claimed that one woman was killed and two other civilians were injured on the Pakistani side in the firing in the Charwa sector near Sialkot on Tuesday. Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) office said that the UNMOGIP will visit the affected areas soon.
According to news agency reports from Jammu, Pakistan’s night-long mortar-bomb attacks and rattle of heavy guns has sent the border villagers scurrying for cover with fear writ large on their face. They fled their mud-houses on buses, tractor-trollies and bull-carts to safer places in Jammu leaving behind deserted hamlets.
Sources said the Pakistani initiation of the ceasefire violations appears to be a “structured and planned response” aimed at internationalising the Kashmir issue. Pakistan is focus on targeting the areas south of the Pir Panjal ranges through firing of weapons and mortars as it hopes to push in more terrorists across the LoC from the areas north of the Pir Panjal.The Indian Army has also received inputs that militants are standing “shoulder to shoulder” with Pakistan Army troops on the Pakistani side of the LoC.
Sources said about 450 militants are waiting to sneak across the LoC from PoK in areas north of the Pir Panjal while the number is about 300 in areas south of the Pir Panjal. Terrorists are trying to sneak through across the LoC in the Gurez, Machil, Keran and Tangdhar sectors, sources said.
BSF spokesperson Vinod Yadav said that the Pakistani Rangers started targeting the Indian positions and civilian areas in Arnia, Ranbir Singh Pura, Kanachak and Pargwal sub-sectors at 9 pm on Monday and that it continued through Tuesday.
The spokesperson said that almost all the BSF posts in Kanachak and Pargwal were targeted whereas some posts in Arnia and Ranbir Singh Pura also came under heavy small and medium arms firing and mortar shelling during this period in continuation of Monday’s deadly attacks on civilians areas.
“BSF troops at all the places gave a strong and befitting reply to firing from Pakistan. The exchanges have continued at some places including Pargwal,” he said.
Though the BSF did not suffer any casualties, three civilians are reported to have been injured in the Pakistani firing. Over 1,000 people evacuated from the areas that came under Pakistani firing have been accommodated in camps overnight.