In an unprecedented move, the Army released a video Tuesday of “punitive fire assaults” on Pakistani posts in the Naushera sector of the Line of Control (LoC) to underline its proactive stance in counter-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
The video, reportedly shot on May 9, eight days after the beheading of two Indian securitymen by soldiers of the Pakistan Army, shows Pakistani posts on a ridge being destroyed by 84 mm rocket launchers, anti-tank guided missiles and 106 mm recoilless guns. Similar videos have circulated on social media platforms but this is the first time that the Army has officially released a video claiming destruction of Pakistan Army bunkers.
Stating that the fire assault captured in the video was not a one-off action, but a part of regular operations by the Army on the LoC, Major General Ashok Narula, Additional Director General of Public Information, said, “Infiltrations are likely to increase with melting of snow and opening of passes. Operations like Naugam where four terrorists were neutralised on 20-21 May are the instances. This calls for even more pro-active counter-terrorism operations.”
Backing the Army action, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted: “Government supports the actions of #IndianArmy across LoC. Such actions are needed to ensure peace in J&K. #IndianArmy is taking preemptive & measured actions to counter terrorism in valley & disengage Pak posts across LoC supporting infiltration.”
(A PTI report from Islamabad said Pakistan Army dismissed as “false” India’s assertion that it decimated a Pakistan Army post in the Naushera sector. “Indian claims of destroying Pakistani post along LoC in Naushera sector and firing by Pakistan Army on civilians across LoC are false,” Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor said.)
The Army has so far maintained that it only opens fire in response to ceasefire violations by the Pakistan side, but it has now acknowledged that it is launching such punitive fire assaults across the LoC proactively. Sources in the Army said the video was released to dispel the notion among people that it was not being aggressive on the LoC, where it has lost men this month to a border action team of the Pakistan Army and in countering infiltration by militants.
As reported by The Indian Express on April 29, the number of ceasefire violations on the LoC, south of Pir Panjal, have shot up this year because of a proactive role assumed by the Army.
“Pak Army has been providing support to armed infiltrators by engaging our forward troops from their weapon emplacements and pill-boxes closer to the Line of Control. At times they have not even hesitated to target villages in the proximity of Line of Control,” Major General Narula said.
“As part of our counter-terrorism strategy and to ensure that infiltration is curbed and initiative remains with us, the Indian Army proactively dominates Line of Control. While doing so, locations aiding infiltration of terrorists are being targeted and destroyed to deny advantage to terrorists thus curbing infiltration attempts,” he said.
India and Pakistan have had a ceasefire on the LoC from November 2003, which largely held until 2015. Following the terror attack on Uri, which led to the loss of 19 soldiers last September, and the surgical strikes by the Army across the LoC, the number of ceasefire violations have shot up, with both sides turning to heavy weaponry to target each other.
Major General Narula maintained that the punitive fire assaults were meant to stop infiltration of militants from Pakistan, who were responsible for the worsening internal security situation in the Kashmir Valley.
“We want peace and tranquillity in the state of J&K. For this purpose, it is essential that infiltration along the Line of Control are controlled, which is essential to bring down the numbers of terrorists in J&K so that youths of J&K are not adversely influenced by terrorists from across,” he said.
Meanwhile, India and Pakistan held a flag meeting at the zero line in the Suchetgarh area Tuesday and decided to re-energise instant communication between field commanders to resolve petty matters between the two forces guarding the international border in the Jammu region.
Stating that a Commandant-Wing Commander level meeting was held on a request from the Pakistan side, a BSF spokesperson said that it lasted for an hour, starting 11.30 am. During the meeting, the BSF raised the issue of recent unprovoked firing by Pakistani Rangers in the Arnia sector.
“It was decided to re-energise instant communication between field commanders, whenever required, to resolve petty matters. Meeting was held in a cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere,” the spokesperson said, adding “both sides agreed for expeditious implementation of the decisions taken in the earlier meeting and committed to each other to maintain peace and tranquility on the International Border”.