Intensity of ceasefire violations along LoC up: India
Pakistan on Thursday resorted to firing four times along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch and Rajouri districts as it violated the ceasefire agreement for the seventh consecutive day with India saying it “retaliated strongly and effectively”.
The firing by shelling with mortars and firing of small arms along LoC started at 6am and the latest came at 4pm, Defence spokesperson Lt Col Devender Anand said, as tension between the neighbouring countries escalated to the worst in years.
“Pakistan continues with its nefarious designs in continuous unprovoked ceasefire violation along the LoC since 0600 hours (6am) in the morning. Now again at about 1500 hours (3pm), it resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation by heavy shelling with mortars and firing of small arms along LoC in Sunderbani, Mankote, Khari Karmara, Degwar Sectors,” Lt Col Anand said.
Sunderbani is in Rajouri district and the other three are in Poonch.
A soldier, Zakir Hussain, of the 3rd Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, who had come home on leave, was injured around 3.15pm on Thursday at Balnoi Sagra of Mankote sector in Poonch. The 35-year-old was cutting wood near his house when the shell exploded near his house. He is being evacuated to a hospital.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan fired along the LoC in the Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch at 6am, drawing strong retaliation from the Indian Army. The firing continued till 7am, Lt Col Anand had said. The firing started again at 1pm in Krishna Ghati sector and then at 2:15pm in Nowshera sector of Rajouri, he had said.
The firings by Pakistan came a day after the air forces of both the neighbours claimed to have downed each other’s fighter jets. Pakistan also captured Indian Air Force’s Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
Pakistan has been violating the 2003 ceasefire agreement and had at least five Indian soldiers were injured on Tuesday as its troops fired across the LoC at several areas in Jammu and Kashmir.
The tension between India and Pakistan has escalated after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed rammed his explosive-laden car and blew up a bus killing 40 CRPF troopers on February 14.
India has accused Pakistan of using its air force to target Indian military installations on Wednesday morning in response to pre-dawn counter-terror strikes of Tuesday against Jaish-e-Mohammad camps in Pakistan.
India and Pakistan summoned each other’s envoys on Wednesday over the tension.
Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner Syed Haider Shah, who was summoned to the South Block in New Delhi, told Indian officials about capturing of an Indian pilot by Pakistani authorities.
In Islamabad, Pakistan’s foreign office also summoned India’s acting high commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia and condemned what it called “unprovoked ceasefire violations” by the Indian forces along the Line of Control resulting in the killing of four of its civilians.
Villagers along the 744-km long Line of Control and 198-km International Border in Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch districts in Jammu region and in Baramulla district in Kashmir Valley say they have been living in fear following the firings.
Authorities have ordered all government and private schools within a range five km from International Border in Samba, Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch to remain closed on Thursday.
They said the situation is tense but no one has migrated so far from Jammu, Samba and Rajouri districts but some families from Chajala Pathri, a village close to the LoC in Poonch, have shifted to safer areas. However, district commissioners of Rajouri and Poonch said there has been no migration as yet.
A report by news agency PTI has said that 2018 witnessed the highest number of ceasefire violations — 2,936 — by Pakistani troops in the last 15 years along the India-Pakistan border.
Pakistan continues to violate the ceasefire understanding of 2003 despite repeated calls for restraint and adherence to the agreement during flag meetings between the border guarding forces of the two countries.
World powers have urged restraint as tensions escalated this week after the February 14 suicide car bombing in Pulwama.
US president Donald Trump said on Thursday he hoped the conflict between India and Pakistan will be coming to an end.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, however, voiced regret that America has not condemned India’s air incursion, saying the stance “emboldened” New Delhi. Asad Majeed Khan said the US should have pinned blame on India.
“It is construed and understood as an endorsement of the Indian position and that is what emboldened them even more,” Khan told reporters when asked about the US statement.