Hours after five civilians were killed in shelling from across the border, home minister Rajnath Singh said Pakistan must realise that the Modi government was not the UPA that would take such aggression lying down.
India was for peaceful relations with the neighbouring country but not at the cost of civilians, the minister said. “If our civilians are killed, India has every right to retaliate,” Singh said in an interview to HT.
Ties between the two countries have soured ever since India called off talks with Pakistan in August. This year has specially been volatile along the border and the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, which is due for assembly polls.
Pakistan typically ratchets up border tensions every time the state holds elections.
“Pakistan must come to terms with the fact that the Modi government is not the previous UPA government which would take such provocations lying down. Zamaana badal gaya hai, fiza badal gai hai (times have changed, atmosphere has changed),” Singh said.
“We’ll not tolerate such acts of border violations by Pakistan. We are for peaceful relationship, but not at the cost of security of our civilians.” India was in a position to “give a befitting and decisive reply” if Pakistan continued to “provoke”.
The tough talk came amid reports of the government instructing the Border Security Force (BSF) to “rain bullets” on Pakistani troops if they continue firing at Indian posts and civilians.
“Our jawans will not sit idle if civilians are attacked. If ceasefire violations continue, we have every right to retaliate with the entire force at our command,” Singh said.
The minister said India was ready for a “decisive dialogue” but the onus was on Pakistan. “They must stop ceasefire violations and start respecting the boundaries; only then can we think of holding a decisive dialogue,” he said.
The minister defended decision to pull out from foreign-secretary level talks, saying even Pakistan had admitted that the timing of the meeting between Kashmiri separatist leaders and its high commissioner was not right. “There is a possibility of talk but dialogue cannot be for mere talking. It has to be decisive.”