The flare-up at the international border will likely continue for a few more days is the assessment of the Director General of the Border Security Force, DK Pathak, who is currently at a forward position in the Jammu sector where Pakistan shelling killed five civilians.
“It will take a couple of days before it subsides. The shelling has now gone into a reaction/counter-reaction mode and frankly if you ask me, Pakistan is not bothered about civilian casualties,’’ Pathak told Hindustan Times on the phone from a forward post on the border.
Reiterating his resolve to ‘hit Pakistan hard,’ Pathak said the Indian government’s mind was clear on how to deal with the aggressive neighbour.
“Both the home minister and the defence minister have made it clear that we are to respond effectively. We have been given a free hand to answer each provocation. If Pakistan fires mortars, we retaliate with mortars and match rocket launchers with rocket launchers.”
The belligerence at both ends has taken a toll on both sides and while India has lost five civilians and nine more were injured in overnight shelling, the death toll in Pakistan, according to the BSF, has gone up to 13.
While there are some reports of the Pakistani army providing covering fire to infiltrators, Pathak was firm that the neighbour had fired without provocation.
“I would be delighted to know the reasons for why Pakistan is targeting civilian population and that too on Eid. As a policy we do not resort to first fire. At the last flag meeting in August we agreed to not fire at each other. We are a professional force and we are only retaliating,’’ Pathak further added.
The retaliation, he admitted was fierce.
“They are getting it back badly,’’ Pathak said.
Pakistan, in turn, has accused India of targeting its civilians and on Tuesday lodged a protest with the United Nations Military Observer Group.