Hours after it fired along the LoC, Pakistan on Tuesday agreed to stop firing along the international border in the Jammu region. The Pakistan Rangers -- counterparts of the Border Security Force (BSF) -- assured BSF officials that they will allow farmers to tend to their crops right up to the zero line.
"Pakistan, though denied of having started violation of the ceasefire agreement, agreed to allow normal activity along the border so that farmers can come to fields right up to the zero line," said BSF DIG JC Singla after the flag meeting held at octroi post, RS Pura sector. The meeting lasted for about three hours and ended at about 3pm.
Even as Pakistan agreed to hold fire along the border, once again it fired along LoC in Poonch district early on Tuesday morning. Pakistan fired along the Gambhir area in Bhimbher Gali sub-sector at 5am. Army responded in a calibrated manner and both sides exchanged fire for about two hours. The firing ended at about 7am. Jammu and Kashmir shares about 200-km international border and about 800-km Line of Control with Pakistan.
Pakistan agreed to hold a flag-meeting -- a routine process to sort out issues along the border -- after declining it twice. It had resorted to heavy firing all along the IB for 15 days, resulting in the death of a BSF soldier and leaving 10 injured. About 20 civilians have also been injured.
Firing has hit farmers as well, as they are not able to attend to their fields up to the zero line. The fence has been erected inside the territory but there are fields beyond it.
The Pakistani delegation that arrived in the Indian territory was led by Brigadier Mateen, sector commander, Pakistan Rangers, Sialkot.
BSF officials said Rangers categorically denied having started the firing and put the blame on India. Rangers also gave details of casualties inflicted by India, which was denied by the latter. BSF officials gave details along with heavy casualties suffered by India along with strong proofs.
Pakistan had finally given positive response for flag meeting on Saturday. Both sides also agreed to cut elephant grass and thick bushes along the border so that visibility becomes clear and both sides are in knowledge of movement across the border.
The move is significant as there have been reports, and intelligence inputs also, that Pakistan had been trying to push in terrorists along the IB and is trying to take advantage of firing and elephant grass -- as movement through the growth is not easy to detect.
There has been no incident of major firing along the border since Friday. India and Pakistan had agreed on ceasefire along the border in J&K in 2003, but this year there have been about 200 incidents of the violation, including about 80 along the IB.
BSF DIG Singla said both sides also agreed to hold regular flag meetings to sort out differences.