Close to 13 years after the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan came into force, the number of ceasefire violations has gone up in the last couple of months. Out of the 151 incidents of ceasefire violations on the LoC this year, 110 of them have happened since September. More than half of these ceasefire violations have taken place after the Army’s Special Forces conducted surgical strikes across the LoC on September 29 to destroy terror launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Pakistan had unilaterally announced a ceasefire on the LoC and International Border on November 26, 2003 which was immediately reciprocated by India. The ceasefire has largely held despite some violations by both sides. The recent incidents of violations have, however, triggered fears that the two sides could be returning to a pre-2003 situation in Jammu & Kashmir.
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As reported by The Indian Express on Saturday, 4,675 Indian soldiers have lost their lives along the LoC in ceasefire violations by Pakistan since 2001. This figure was given by the Army in reply to an application filed under RTI by a Vadodara-based activist.
According to military sources in Kashmir, 89 of the 110 ceasefire violations since September have occurred south of Pir Panjal, in Poonch, Mendhar, Naushera and Akhnoor sectors. Uri, Tangdhar, Keren, Machhil and Gurez sectors — areas north of Pir Panjal — have witnessed 21 ceasefire violations in the past two months.
“These ceasefire violations are recorded because they are serious violations, where the exchange of fire is for at least 15-20 minutes. Use of direct and indirect weapons or prolonged firing of small arms is registered as a violation. We don’t count a single burst of small arms as a ceasefire violation,” explained a senior military official posted in Kashmir.
But military officials say that there is no set pattern to these violations and neither side has announced that it has used artillery guns so far. “The level of exchange so far has been below the use of artillery. Even if anyone is using artillery, no one is claiming its usage. That means that the situation is so far non-escalatory in a sense,” the official added.
Pakistan has been firing heavy mortars during these exchanges on the LoC which has led to the death of five soldiers since the surgical strikes.