Fresh Firing at LOC; Kashmir Trade In Doldrums

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NEW DELHI: The Line of Control in Kashmir simmered with tension today, despite India and Pakistan pledging to de-escalate the crisis caused by Tuesday’s brutal killing of two Indian soldiers. One of them was decapitated.

The ceasefire was violated again this evening. The Indian Army said it had delivered “an appropriate response” to firing from Pakistan, which claims it lost a soldier in “unprovoked firing” by India in the Battal area. 

According to Radio Pakistan, a Pakistani soldier was killed Thursday when “Indian troops resorted to unprovoked firing at Tatta Pani Sector in Kotli today”.

Hamid Mir of Geo TV said in a tweet: “Tatta Pani sector of Kashmir became another battlefield, one Pakistani soldier Havaldar Mohyudin martyred by Indian shelling.”

Cross-border trade was impacted as Pakistan refused to allow 25 trucks from Poonch to cross the Line of Control in the Poonch district and enter a designated trade centre in Pakistani side of Kashmir. Local officials were not able to contact their Pakistani counterparts. 21 items, mainly agricultural produce, are bartered every week between the two sides. 

Pakistan has denied India’s claim that its troops crossed the Line of Control on Tuesday to ambush a patrol party near Mendhar, 220 kilometres north of Jammu. Two Indian jawans were killed. The head of one of the bodies had been severed. India has asked Pakistan to investigate the “barbaric and inhuman mutilation” and has rejected Islamabad’s offer of a United Nations inquiry. “We are certainly not going to agree to internationalise the issue or allow the United Nations to hold an inquiry. That demand is obviously rejected out of hand,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram said after a cabinet meeting.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the heightened border tensions will not to come in the way of a liberalized visa agreement between India and Pakistan.

“The visa agreement (inked last year) will be carried out as scheduled, there is no rethink on it,” Shinde told reporters.

National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon noted that ceasefire violations by Pakistan on the LoC had increased last year. “There has been an increase in ceasefire violations by Pakistan and in infiltration attempts in 2012 over 2011.”

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party said it would organize nation-wide protests Friday over the killings of the two soldiers.

“People are very angry over this matter,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman said, adding: “We hold the Pakistan government and army accountable for breaking the ceasefire.”

“We should give proof, name and shame Pakistan for having done this… we can’t afford to have our goodwill misused,” she added.

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said in a series of tweets today, “The Government must go in for tough measures and we will support the Government in such decisions.”

It is matter of honour for the country. It is question of the morale of our armed forces. The Government has to act. And the Government has to act tough,” she added.

Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray demanded that India should “take revenge” against Pakistan for the brutal killing of the two soldiers. Agencies

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