A top army officer said on Wednesday the Indian Army was pounding Pakistani positions along the Line of Control (LoC) with explosives to cause enemy casualties in retaliation to ceasefire violations by the neighbour.
Days ahead of the NSA-level talks on August 23-24, Nagrota-based 16 Corps commander Lieutenant General RR Nimbhorkar told HT: “Our job is to make them suffer casualties, otherwise they will merrily escalate hostilities. We are responding with overwhelming firepower to stop them in their tracks.”
He said Pakistan-provoked military escalation in the Jammu region had spread fighting to a 114-km expanse of the LOC and forced the Indian Army to adopt a muscular stance.
A surge in ceasefire violations by Pakistan has triggered skirmishes along a stretch of more than half of the 224-km disputed border in the region. Ceasefire violations in the Jammu region have spiked since August 8, with Pakistan cranking up tensions with the use of high-calibre weapons and targeting civilian population.
The area has seen more than 20 violations in the last 10 days, including a mortar attack that left five civilians dead and 20 injured in Poonch sector on August 15. “We are prepared for any type of escalation and our retaliation will be massive. However, being a professional and ethical force, we will never target their civilians,” said Nimbhorkar, who has served in J-K for more than 15 years during his 37-year-long military career.
Pakistan is using 120mm and 82mm mortars, 14.5mm anti-aircraft guns, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns against Indian targets. The 120mm mortar bombs have an explosive content of 10.5%, compared to 3.7% in the 81mm mortars India retaliates with. “The quantum and accuracy of our firepower is sufficient to deal with them,” the general said.
India had on Sunday summoned Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit to protest against “systematic targeting of civilians” and the use of high-calibre weapons, including artillery, by his country’s troops along the LoC.
Each violation by Pakistan triggers a heavy exchange of mortar, rocket and machine gun fire that usually goes on for several hours. Pakitani troops on Wednesday stepped up offensive in Hamirpur and Mendhar areas in Poonch, triggering an exchange of fire that lasted nearly six hours.
Pakistan, however, has accused India of 70 ceasefire violations along the LoC and international border in July-August.