Army chief Rawat meets his generals as LoC burns, Pak summons Indian envoy
The army’s senior-most officials will review the security situation and operational preparedness of soldiers posted in the state and along the Line of Control.india Updated: Jun 02, 2017 00:14 IST
Army chief General Bipin Rawat and his top commanders landed in Srinagar on Thursday for a security review, even as cross-border shelling and gunfire escalated and Pakistan summoned India’s deputy high commissioner in Islamabad over casualties.
It is rare for the army’s senior-most generals to congregate in Jammu and Kashmir to review the security situation and operational preparedness of soldiers posted in the state and along the Line of Control (LoC), the de-facto border between Indian and Pakistan.
The air force was also represented at the review.
In New Delhi, defence minister Arun Jaitley said Indian soldiers are in a commanding position along the LoC.
“In the past few weeks, our armed forces, the Indian Army and BSF, are dominating the Line of Control,” he said.
At least five Pakistani soldiers were killed and six more were wounded in retaliatory firing by the Indian military in the Bhimber and Battal sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
The army was responding to unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces, which fired machine guns and 82mm and 120mm mortar shells at Indian outposts and villages across the border.
A General Engineering Reserve Force labourer was killed, while two more men, including a BSF trooper, were wounded on Thursday in Pakistani firing in Rajouri and Poonch districts.
But Pakistan accused India of targeting civilians in border towns, killing a villager.
The Pakistani foreign office summoned the deputy high commissioner JP Singh and condemned the ceasefire violation.
The border burned on a day Rawat was in Srinagar for a two-day security review after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Sabzar Bhat on May 27.
The army gunned down a number of militants in the past weeks, but has been unable to tamp down on local anger. Thousands showed up at the funeral of Bhat on Sunday.
Jaitley dismissed reports of mounting unrest and public anger in the Valley, saying the situation was mostly normal. “The situation in Kashmir is better than the impression.”
Indian security forces have piled pressure on militants and the results are visible, he said.
The minister hit out at Pakistan for scuttling chances of a dialogue.
“The government of India has taken significant steps to ease the situations in past … each was responded by say, a Pathankot, Uri or mutilation of soldiers,” he said, referring to attacks on army bases allegedly carried out by militants from Pakistan.
The comments come amid a series of ceasefire violations by the neighbouring army.
The army on May 23 announced that it fired at and damaged Pakistani posts along the border as part of counter-insurgency operations to stop militants from crossing into India.
The offensive was called “punitive fire assaults” across the LoC to bring down the number of militants trying to enter the state.
The army released what it said was a video of the military action that showed heavy artillery blasting temporary bunkers and shelters on a tree-covered mountain. The video was shot in Jammu’s Naushera sector on May 9.
The army found itself in the middle of a firestorm after a video clip showed a man tied to the fender of an army jeep and paraded through villages. The incident deepened the army-civilian divide and sparked violent protests in the militancy-hit valley.
The major, who uses the Kashmiri weaver as a human shield against stone-throwing mobs, was awarded the army chief’s commendation card in May.
(With agency inputs)