A major and two soldiers were martyred in cross-border firing by Pakistan army at Keri in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday afternoon, even as the two countries continue to exchange heavy fire at different places along the Line of Control (LoC) on a daily basis.
An “area domination patrol” of the 2 Sikh battalion deployed in the Keri sector, under the 120 Infantry Brigade, was underway when it came under fire from Pakistan army posts at about 12.15pm. “The major and two soldiers were killed in the shelling, while another soldier was injured. Our soldiers responded effectively,” said an officer.
The Army has recorded over 780 ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the 778-km LoC already this year, while the number has crossed 120 along the 198-km international border manned by BSF in J&K, marking a new high in recent times. The ceasefire violations along the LoC in 2014 and 2015 stood at 153 and 152, respectively, while the tally was 228 last year.
The Indian director-general of military operations, Lt-Gen A K Bhatt, had just last month told his Pakistan counterpart, Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, over the hotline that there appeared to be a “disconnect” between his army headquarters at Rawalpindi, which professes a desire for peace, and its troops on the ground along the LOC, who resort to heavy firing and ceasefire violations without any provocation.
While maintaining that the Indian Army will continue its efforts to ensure peace and tranquility on the borders, it will “continue to take all retaliatory measures and retain the right to punitively respond to any provocative acts of aggression from the Pakistani side”, said Lt-Gen Bhatt.
The Indian Army has over the last few months repeatedly told the Pakistan army to desist from actively abetting cross-border terrorism and infiltration, warning that all misadventures to either target Indian troops or provide covering fire to infiltrating terrorists would be met with retaliatory punitive fire assaults.
India has stressed that the main reason for any collateral damage in the cross-border firings is due to Pakistan army’s “unacceptable” support to cross-border terrorism and infiltration as well as its strategy to deploy civilians at its forward posts to gain intelligence and act as guides to the terrorists crossing the LoC.