Prime Minister Narendra Modi got his first briefing in the Indian Army war room on Friday on the security situation in the country, the status of the borders and the operational preparedness of the military.
The briefing by senior Army officers in South Block came even as an Army jawan died in an IED explosion near the Line of Control in the Mendhar region. This led to heavy exchange of fire in the Bhimber Gali brigade area.
The IED was suspected to have been planted by a Pakistan Border Action Team (BAT). At least six others, including an officer, were injured in the blast and during attempts to clear the area.
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In South Block, Modi was given a detailed presentation on the security environment. Those present in the war room included Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister of State Rao Inderjit Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
Since April this year, there have been 20 incidents of ceasefire violation by Pakistan along the LoC and international border in Jammu & Kashmir. Last year, there were 149 such incidents, resulting in the death of a dozen jawans and injuries to 41 others.
Jaitley will be in J&K for two days, his first trip to the state after being given charge of the defence portfolio.
On Friday morning, Pakistani troops targeted Indian positions in the Balakote sector with mortars and rockets, killing cattle and damaging houses.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted “significant ceasefire violation in Rajouri & Poonch with reports of some shells having landed in civilian areas. Some livestock loss.”
In another tweet, he questioned the timing of the ceasefire violation: “Is it just a coincidence that the Defence Minister is visiting J&K, for his 1st visit, to review the security situation tomorrow?”
The dead jawan was identified as Shankar Singh of 20 Jat. Those injured are Major K K Bhatia of 66 Engineering Regiment, Havaldar Sushil Kumar, Lance Naik Mohinder Singh, Sepoys Sukhwinder, Shailender Prakash and Shibu Ram Singh — all from 20 Jat and 6 Rajputana Rifles.
The J&K situation was discussed at the war room meeting and intelligence inputs suggest that there could be “more such attempts to provoke a reaction”.
The May 18 attack, which left Sepoy Bhikale Uttam Balu of the 2 Maratha Light Infantry (MLI) dead and two others injured, was a cause of serious concern, an official said. In the Akhnoor attack, a border action team that likely consisted of Pakistani regulars infiltrated almost a kilometre inside Indian territory and planted a mine to target a patrol party of the MLI.
Dismissing speculation that the mine could have been old and had gone off accidentally, the official said the explosive had been planted deliberately to target the patrol. Along with the mine explosion that killed the sepoy, small arms fire also targeted the Indian patrol.