India and Pakistan traded accusations over violation of the ceasefire agreement across Line of Control (LoC) – the de-facto border between India and Pakistan, as tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors continued to fester.
The Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) of Pakistan made an unscheduled call to his Indian counterpart Monday morning and accused India of targeting the Pakistani army and killing four of its personnel. The Indian DGMO is learnt to have said that it was Pakistan which initiated the firing in violation of the ceasefire and that the Indian forces only responded.
“During the talks, the Pakistani DGMO raised the issue of targeting of Pakistan Army troops which resulted in the death of four Pakistani soldiers and one civilian in Athmuqam Sector of Pakistan Administered Kashmir opposite Indian Keren Sector, Kupwara District,” Indian Army said in a statement.
Earlier on Sunday, the Pakistan Army claimed that Indian forces had targeted a military vehicle and that it had responded accordingly.
“Indian troops targeted an Army vehicle moving along LOC along Neelum River at Athmuqam. The vehicle fell into the Neelum river. Four soldiers drowned. The body of one martyr has been recovered, search for remaining 3 in progress. Ceasefire violation responded,” Pakistani Army’s statement read.
However, the Indian Army claimed that the firing was mainly targeted at armed intruders. “Firing by Indian troops was initiated against armed intruders when attempting to infiltrate from the close proximity of Pakistani posts along the Line of Control (LOC)” the statement read.
India’s counter accusation came in the wake of the death of a five-year-old girl and a soldier in the firing by Pakistani troops at the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. The deceased girl, who was hit by a Pakistani shell, was identified as Saida of Balakote in Poonch district and the soldier was killed in Rajouri district’s Tarkundi area.
The Indian Army also claimed that a civilian was heavily injured when mortar shells fired by the Pakistani forces landed on his bunker in Bhimber Gali sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
Five days ago, two Indian soldiers were killed during cross- border firing at Kupwara sector.
Indian Defence Ministry spokesman Lt Col Manish Mehta said the firing along the LoC was still going on after Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked shelling at Bhimber Gali, Mendhar and Balakote sectors of Poonch and Rajouri districts.
According to the Indian Army, in June, there were 23 incidents of ceasefire violations, one BAT (Border Action Team) attack and two infiltration bids by Pakistan.
The last conversation between the DGMOs of India and Pakistan was on June 5 this year at the behest of the Pakistani side during which both sides discussed the current situation along the Line of Control. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, forty security personnel and thirty civilians have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir this year till now, which is the highest in the last few years.
India and Pakistan had in November 2003 agreed to cease fire along the de facto border but violations have intensified since the 2016 Kashmir unrest and amid souring of ties between the two countries.
India and Pakistan have fought four wars – the Indo-Pakistani Wars of 1947 ,1965 and 1971 as well as the Kargil War of 1999. The two countries have also been involved in several skirmishes over control of the Siachen Glacier.
The Kashmir issue has been the main cause, whether direct or indirect, of all major conflicts between the two countries with the exception of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 where conflict originated due to turmoil in erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir, which stems from the unfinished business of the partition of British India in 1947.
Written with inputs from Sputnik and Indian/Pakistani news agencies