India and Pakistan make new bid to reinforce ceasefire along LoC in Jammu and Kashmir
Sector commanders of the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Pakistan Rangers held a flag meeting on Monday evening in Jammu and Kashmir’s RS Pura.
India and Pakistan attempted for a second time in a week to reinforce a 2003 ceasefire along the Line of Control that appears to lie in tatters following repeated incidents of firing along the border. Sector commanders of the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Pakistan Rangers held a flag meeting on Monday evening in Jammu and Kashmir’s RS Pura, a day after Pakistani sniper fire and shelling killed two BSF personnel and injured 12 villagers .
The meeting came on a day when at least 12 people and four policemen were injured in Kashmir’s Shopian after an unidentified person hurled a grenade at security personnel.
In the evening, another grenade strike in Pulwama injured four security personnel and three civilians, the 12th such attack since the director generals of military operations (DGMOs) of the two countries met on May 29 and agreed to “sincere measures” to curb border violence. On May 16, India also announced the cessation of operations by security forces in the state in the holy month of Ramzan.
BSF Jammu frontier inspector general Ram Awtar said the three sector commanders of the BSF Jammu frontier participated at the sector commander level flag meeting. Pak Rangers were led by a sector commander and wing commanders.
The meeting was held at the Octroi border outpost of the BSF in Suchetgarh area. The next such meeting will be held on June 21, a senior BSF officer said on the condition of anonymity.
“Today’s meeting is likely to bring firing-free environment, particularly for border area villagers on both sides. Commanders on both sides agreed to keep talks on at every level to develop confidence between two border guarding forces,” said the officer mentioned above.
The BSF blames Pakistan for repeatedly breaking the ceasefire along the Line of Control and the international border.
The force claims Pakistan has violated the ceasefire 1,100 times since 2003.
On Sunday, Awtar said Pakistan Rangers were not adhering to the ceasefire agreement in letter and spirit and that there was difference between the words and deeds of Pakistan.
Last month, the Centre announced a unilateral cessation of operations of security forces during the holy month of Ramzan but there has been no let up in the violence, compelling Union minister of state for home Hansraj Ahir to say this week that the government would be “constrained” to revoke the Ramzan ceasefire if Pakistan continued cross-border firing. “We had decided to suspend operations in view of Ramzan. However, there is no respite in cross-border terrorism and ceasefire violations on the part of Pakistan. We will be constrained to revoke the ceasefire agreement,” he said.
On Monday, Pakistan said India and Pakistan were two nuclear powers and there was no space for war between the two countries. Director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Asif Ghafoor claimed 1,881 incidents in 2017 left 52 dead and 254 injured and that the number of cross-border incidents had climbed north of 1,500 by the first week of June in 2018 alone. “We are willing to ignore the first shot that is fired from the Indian side, provided it does not result in a casualty on our side,” Ghafoor said, adding “the second shot would be responded to in kind.”
After nine days of intense shelling by Pakistan from May 15 to May 23 left 12 people dead and 56 others injured, besides displacing over one lakh people from Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts, the two countries had a DGMO level talk on May 29 to restore the November 2003 ceasefire agreement .
Increased shelling from Pakistan has created panic in border villages, forcing the state government to open relief camps for villagers fleeing their homes.
The state capital of Srinagar has also been on edge since Saturday after a 21-year-old man was run over by a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) vehicle that was targeted by protesters after Friday prayers.
Amid a flare up in grenade attacks, which also injured four CRPF troopers and four civilians on Saturday, home minister Rajnath Singh is visiting the state on June 7 and 8 to review security, especially in light of the annual Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage that begins on June 28.