Amid the ongoing confusion in Kashmir, there has been a sudden increase in the quantum and nature of ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) in the past few days. This followed attempted actions by Pakistan’s BAT (Border Action Team) and opening of artillery fire, which led to severe retaliation by Indian troops against Pakistan Army posts.
Top military sources told The Sunday Express that there were five BAT attempts on Indian military posts on the LoC in the past few days. It has been assessed that these BAT groups comprised highly trained professional SSG (Special Services Group) commandos of the Pakistan Army, said sources.
According to sources, Pakistan Army started artillery fire on Indian posts, which led to a retaliatory response from the Indian side. India’s response including the use of Bofors 155mm artillery guns, which were used north of Pir Panjal ranges after a long time. The use of Bofors guns on the LoC is rare, and it has been done south of Pir Panjal.
It has been estimated, sources said, that the Pakistan Army was not prepared for such a massive retaliation and may have suffered high casualties.
The use of artillery guns portends a breakdown of the informal agreement between the two armies in April, when they had agreed to not undertake calibre escalation during ceasefire violations on the LoC. The violations were mostly limited to small arms firing, with only six calibre escalations among 181 ceasefire violations in the month of June.
Giving details of a BAT attempt “on one of the forward posts in Keran sector” of J&K, the Army said on Saturday that it had foiled the bid, “resulting in neutralising of 5 to 7 Pakistan regulars/ terrorists”.
A statement issued by the defence spokesperson in Srinagar, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, said that in the last 36 hours, a number of attempts were made by Pakistan “to disturb the peace in the Valley” and “target” the Amarnath Yatra.
Army sources said the BAT attempt was made on the intervening night of July 31 and August 1 in Kupwara’s Keran sector, on the LoC. The operation in the area was still going on, they said.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, Colonel Kalia said that since “shelling is going on in the area, the bodies haven’t been recovered”.
Army officers said four bodies of “possibly SSG” commandos or “maybe some of terrorists” have been sighted on the Indian side of the LoC. “Pakistani troops deployed in the area are interfering with search operations and attempts to recover the bodies,” they said.
The Army also dismissed Pakistan’s claims that India used “cluster bombs” against the people of Kashmir as “lies, deceit and deception”. “Pakistan Army regularly attempts to push terrorists through infiltrations and opens up with multitude of weapons to assist them. India during numerous Directorate of Military Operations level talks, has maintained the right to respond. Such responses are only against military targets & infiltrating terrorists who are aided by Pak Army. Allegations of firing of cluster bombs by India is yet another Pak’s lie, deceit & deception,” the Army said in a sharply-worded statement.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had tweeted: “Strongly condemn the blatant use of cluster ammunition by Indian Security Forces targeting innocent civilians along the Line Of Control. This is clear violation of the Geneva Convention & International Laws”.
India in it’s war frenzy is not only sabotaging regional peace but also committing gross human rights violations along the LOC. I urge the nations of the world to take strict notice of the ongoing situation in IOK and LOC. https://t.co/IQCotv472O
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) August 3, 2019
“Use of cluster bombs by Indian Army violating international conventions is condemnable. No weapon can suppress determination of Kashmiris to get their right of self determination. Kashmir runs in blood of every Pakistani,” tweeted Pakistan Army spokesperson Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor.
Meanwhile, Pakistani troops resorted to mortar shelling and small arms fire along the LoC in Balakote area of Poonch district on Saturday. The ceasefire violation began at 8.15 am, said sources. The Indian troops retaliated.
In the Valley, four Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists were killed in separate encounters by security forces. The cache recovered included a sniper rifle, IED and mine with Pakistani markings, the Army said.
— With ENS inputs, New Delhi, Jammu