Guns Rattle Along IB, LOC; BSF Jawan Killed

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Home minister Shinde tells troops to give a fitting reply to Pakistan

JAMMU/NEW DELHI: Pakistani troops heavily shelled 50 border outposts in Jammu frontier killing a BSF jawan in what is stated to be the most serious ceasefire violation since 2003 that prompted home minister Sushilkumar Shinde to declare that a “befitting reply” would be given.

Indian army spokesman Nitin Narhar Joshi said the flare-up was among the worst since 2003, while senior army commanders speaking on condition of anonymity said it was the most serious.

“The situation along the LoC is certainly one of the most serious witnessed since the ceasefire,” Mr Joshi said. “Now it is becoming ever worse with the sanctity of the international border also being severely violated by Pakistan.”

Rattled over the escalation in shelling and the death of a BSF jawan and injuries to six others in Pakistani firing, Shinde upped the ante, saying that all such unprovoked acts would be met with a “befitting” reply from the Indian side. 

“We will give a befitting reply to Pakistan,” Shinde told reporters here, reacting to the large-scale firing since Tuesday on BSF positions along the international border in Jammu. He added that additional BSF troops were being deployed at vantage points in the wake of the recurrent ceasefire violations. 

The heavy shelling overnight in the fresh ceasefire violation came close on the heels of Shinde’s visit to areas along the IB on Tuesday to review the security situation arising out of a rise in such incidents since 14 October, in which two jawans were killed and 18 people injured.

BSF officers in Jammu said Pakistani Rangers opened fire with automatic weapons and attacked over 50 border posts (BOPs) along IB in Jammu frontier belt with mortar shells since last night.

Pakistani rangers also rained mortars in forward villages of Arnia, R S Pura and Akhnoor sectors from 7.40 pm Tuesday night, the officers said.

BSF troops guarding the border line retaliated resulting in fierce exchanges of shelling and firing, which continued till Wednesday morning, they said.

The injured were hospitalised. In the exchange of fire, Mukesh Lal Meena, a head constable of BSF posted in BOP Chinaj, was killed and seven BSF personnel, including two officers, were injured, they said.

Firing along the disputed Line of Control (LoC) that separates Kashmir into Indian and Pakistani sectors has taken place sporadically ever since 2003.

But the recent rise in incidents has caused alarm. The subject was taken up by prime ministers Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif in New York last month when they pledged to improve conditions to build trust.

India’s defence ministry says it has compiled more than 200 ceasefire violations this year, more than all the other violations since 2003.

Both sides accuse the other of “unprovoked” firing which leads to retaliatory strikes.

In Islamabad Pakistani officials accused the Indian army of violating the Line of Control (LoC) in Sialkot again on Wednesday.

Unprovoked firing and shelling allegedly occurred in the Chaprar and Charwah sectors displacing many people from their homes, Pakistani news channels reported.

Pakistani Prime Minister is currently in Washington and is set to meet President Barack Obama later Wednesday, after angering India by calling for US involvement to help settle the six-decade dispute over Kashmir. Agencies

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