Pakistan continued ceasefire violations along the international border (IB) on Thursday targeting 13 border outposts of the Border Security Force (BSF) in Samba sector of Jammu and Kashmir and hurling mortars, nine of which landed on the Indian side, injuring one BSF jawan and a civilian, and drawing sharp retaliatory action from India.
The fresh firing by Pakistan came after the BSF destroyed a major launching pad of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba terrorists located in a makeshift school near the Abhail Dogra post in Pakistan and also killed five Pakistan Rangers in heavy retaliatory fire on Wednesday.
The total death count of Pakistani Rangers has gone up to five since Wednesday, evoking a sharp reaction from Islamabad, which is pulling all strings to ask New Delhi to “rein in” the BSF. However, the directive conveyed by the Narendra Modi government to the border guarding forces is clear, “there will be no talks, only heavy retaliation, till ceasefire violations continue”.
According to information available with the BSF top brass, more than 100 militants are waiting to infiltrate from the Pakistani side using the cover of repeated firing by the Pakistan Rangers along the IB. “Desperate bids are going on to push terrorists across the border. Around 25-30 terrorists narrowly escaped after their pad at Abhail Dogra was destroyed by the BSF on Wednesday,” top sources said.
While the BSF retaliation has sent a strong signal to Pakistan to be prepared for “collateral damage”, home minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said if anyone dares to cast an evil eye on India, the security forces will give a fitting response.
“Our jawans are protecting the border with all their might. No one can dare cast an evil eye on India. Even if someone tries to do so, the BSF and other security forces will give them a fitting reply,” Mr Singh said in New Delhi.
Speaking in Bengaluru, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said Islamabad does not seem to learn any lesson, and India’s response had been “more than double the capacity”.
“Pakistan does not like to stay quiet even on New Year’s Day. They started (cross-border) firing at 12.30 in the night and don’t seem to learn (any) lesson,” Mr Parrikar said.
Later speaking to reporters, he said, “There are ceasefire violations… Whenever they want infiltration to be done, many times they do the firings at night… I don’t think that we have allowed that to happen… (sic)”
Home minister Rajnath Singh said Pakistan should desist from such violations and officials of both the countries have been in touch over the issue.
“Pakistan should not do this. Diplomats of both the countries remain in constant touch,” Mr Singh said, adding normalcy will return soon.
Reports from Sialkot quoted Pakistani officials as saying that the latest round of cross-border firing began when the BSF killed two Chenab Rangers’ personnel in Shakargarh sector on Wednesday after calling them for a flag meeting on the working boundary. They were identified as Naik Riaz Shakir and Lance Naik Mohammad Safdar.
The BSF strongly denied the charge, saying the firing was started by the Chenab Rangers, killing one of its jawans, Sri Ram Gowria, and wounding another after which the Pakistanis were given a “befitting reply”.
In Jammu, BSF inspector-general (Jammu frontier) Rakesh Sharma said that India will launch a strong protest with Pakistan over fresh ceasefire violations along the IB.
“They (Pakistan) have violated the norms on the IB and we are going to lodge a strong protest against it,” he told reporters in Jammu. BSF officials said that one of its troopers sustained bullet injuries after Pakistan’s Chenab Rangers, during the intervening night of January 1, targeted BSF border outposts by firing small and heavy arms, including 81 mm mortars. The BSF retaliated effectively with similar calibre weapons while exchange of fire continued through Thursday morning, leaving a civilian also injured on the Indian side of the border.