India, Pakistan trade barbs over deadly Kashmir clash

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-JAZEERA NEWS)

 

India, Pakistan trade barbs over deadly Kashmir clash

Several soldiers and civilians killed on both sides, as India and Pakistan blame one another for ‘unprovoked’ firing.

Relatives and friends mourn next to bodies of victims in cross border shelling in Pakistan's Neelum valley [Sajjad Qayyum/AFP]
Relatives and friends mourn next to bodies of victims in cross border shelling in Pakistan’s Neelum valley [Sajjad Qayyum/AFP]

India and Pakistan blamed one another for cross-border shelling in the disputed Kashmir region which killed and injured soldiers and civilians on both sides and made it one of the deadliest days since New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s special status in August.

India said there was heavy shelling by Pakistan across the border in northern Kashmir’s Tangdhar region late on Saturday night, killing two Indian soldiers and one civilian.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Armed Forces said one of its soldiers and three civilians had died and that India had violated the ceasefire.

There was an unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan, Indian defense spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.

“Our troops retaliated strongly, causing heavy damage and casualties to the enemy,” Kalia said.

Pakistan’s army, meanwhile, claimed that India’s attacks in Jura, Shahkot and Nowshera sectors was “unprovoked” and deliberately targeted civilians.

Major General Asif Ghafoor, a spokesman for the Pakistani Armed Forces, said Pakistan responded “effectively”, killing nine Indian soldiers, injuring several others and destroying two bunkers.

DG ISPR

@OfficialDGISPR

Indian unprovoked CFVs in Jura, shahkot & Nousehri Sectors deliberately targeting civilians. Effectively responded. 9 Indian soldiers killed several injured. 2 Indian bunkers destroyed.
During exchange of fire 1 soldier & 3 civilians shaheed, 2 soldiers & 5 civilians injured.

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Islamabad has summoned the Indian envoy in protest over the shelling and killings, and offered to have diplomats from the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members, including the United States and Russia, visit the border and see that no rebel camps exist there.

Both sides accused each other of violating a 2003 ceasefire accord.

Border clashes

Sunday’s clashes came days after Pakistan’s foreign ministry protested against similar incidents from across the heavily militarized Line of Control (LoC) by Indian forces that killed three civilians and wounded another eight on October 15.

Deadly border clashes have spiked over the past few weeks which have seen Indian and Pakistani forces target frontier posts as well as villages, leading to casualties among soldiers and civilians on both sides.

Tensions between the neighbors have remained high since India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy on August 5 and imposed movement and communications restrictions to quell unrest.

Islamabad has warned that changing Kashmir’s status would escalate tensions but India said the withdrawal of the special status is an internal affair and is aimed at faster economic development of the territory.

Pakistan and India both control parts of Kashmir, but each lays claim to the entire region since the countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the region.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

India: Army increases troops at LoC to fend off infiltration

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Army increases troops at LoC to fend off infiltration

Northern Army commander Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said anger over scrapping Article 370 was subsiding in the Kashmir valley but Pakistan was trying its best to reinvigorate the terror machinery.

INDIA Updated: Oct 14, 2019 07:59 IST

Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh has been constantly reviewing the situation in the Kashmir valley.
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh has been constantly reviewing the situation in the Kashmir valley. (ANI Photo)

The Indian Army has deployed more troops along the Line of Control (LoC) over the past two months to deal with an unusual spike in infiltration by Pakistan-backed terrorists looking to stir trouble in Jammu and Kashmir since the Centre’s move revoking the special status of the state on August 5, one of the army’s top-most commanders said on Sunday.

Northern Army commander Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said anger over the government’s move to effectively scrap Article 370 of the Constitution and J&K’s bifurcation into two Union Territories was subsiding in the Kashmir valley but Pakistan was trying its best to reinvigorate the terror machinery in order to destabilise the border region.

Infiltration attempts, accompanied by ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army, are occurring almost every day since the decisions on J&K were announced on August 5, he said.

“We have brought in additional soldiers from outside Northern Command to strengthen our counter-infiltration posture along the LoC. Troops have also been pulled out of pockets where terror has been dormant and sent to forward locations. No patch of the border is unguarded and we have repelled the majority of infiltration attempts,” General Singh told Hindustan Times.

While the Northern Army commander did not reveal details of the redeployment citing operational reasons, two officers familiar with the development said troop numbers along the LoC were up by a few thousand. General Singh is in Delhi to attend a biannual meeting of the army’s top commanders who will discuss a raft of important issues including the one on Kashmir over the next five days.

The army’s Udhampur-based Northern command is the nerve-centre for counter-insurgency operations in J&K and is also responsible for guarding the LoC.

The number of border violations by Pakistan has risen dramatically this year. According to official data, there have been 2,317 violations as on October 10 this year, compared to 1,629 last year and 860 in 2017. The neighbouring army was initiating ceasefire violations along the LoC to help infiltrators sneak into J&K and carry out terror attacks, Singh said. Such infiltrators have carried out a string of suicide attacks recently including the ones in Uri, Pathankot and Nagrota.

Intelligence reports have warned against the presence of more than 500 terrorists at launch pads and terror camps across the LoC, facing Kupwara, Baramulla, Poonch and Rajouri sectors. In addition, the number of terrorists in Kashmir stands between 250 and 300.

“Even one terror strike backed by Pakistan could ratchet up bilateral tensions. There’s no doubt we are going to act on it. Pakistan is frustrated as it is unable to push infiltrators across the LoC. It is now looking at using border routes in Punjab, Gujarat and Nepal,” said General Singh. He was heading the army’s military operations directorate in 2016 when India launched multiple surgical strikes against terror pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in response to the Uri suicide attack that left 19 Indian soldiers dead.

With post-paid mobile phone services set to be restored across J&K from Monday, General Singh said restrictions imposed after the August 5 announcement were being lifted in a gradual way after a detailed risk assessment.

“The communications blackout was eased when landlines became functional. People can use their cell phones now. Restoration of Internet services will take some time. While control measures can’t be there forever, we have to deny Pakistani elements the chance to whip up tensions in Kashmir,” he said.

He said the security forces could face a fresh set of challenges in the coming weeks due to a series of important events such as the move of the seat of governance from Srinagar to Jammu on October 26 (the J&K government functions six months each from Jammu and Srinagar), Diwali the following day and J&K and Ladakh coming into existence as Union Territories on October 31. J&K’s winter capital Jammu will become functional from November 5.

“The aim of the Pakistani machinery will be to create trouble around this crucial time. We are at our highest alert levels,” he said.

General Singh said Pakistan had fully activated the terror infrastructure on its soil and attempts to push in infiltrators were likely to spill over into the winter months.

Experts said that the security forces were in control of the situation in J&K but they highlighted the threat from Pakistan-sponsored terror.

“It is positive that there has been very little violence in the Valley post August 5. Now that restrictions are being eased, the big challenge for the government will be to win the confidence of the people. This is not going to be an easy task but it is absolutely essential,” said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd), who oversaw the September 2016 surgical strikes in PoK.

“As far as Pakistan is concerned, we are seeing no change in its behaviour in supporting terrorist activities in J&K. This could have serious implications if there is a major terror strike that India will be forced to respond to,” General Hooda added.

First Published: Oct 14, 2019 01:33 IST

Kashmir cross-border fire ‘kills 3 Pakistani, 5 Indian soldiers’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL JAZEERA NEWS)

 

Kashmir cross-border fire ‘kills 3 Pakistani, 5 Indian soldiers’

India denies Pakistani army’s statement that five of its troops were killed in exchange of fire across Line of Control.

Indian soldiers patrolling near the LoC on Tuesday [Channi Anand/AP Photo]
Indian soldiers patrolling near the LoC on Tuesday [Channi Anand/AP Photo]

Pakistan‘s army has said at least three Pakistani and five Indian soldiers have been killed after a cross-border soldiers killed

exchange of fire in the disputed region of Kashmir, prompting a denial by New Delhi that there were fatalities among its forces.

Major General Asif Ghafoor, spokesman of Pakistan armed forces, wrote on Twitter on Thursday that its three soldiers had died along with five of India’s when Indian forces opened fire along the contested border, known as the Line of Control (LOC).

“Intermittent exchange of fire continues,” Ghafoor tweeted.

He told Al Jazeera that three civilians were also killed on Thursday in the same cross-border firing at Batal sector on the Pakistani side of the LoC.

DG ISPR

@OfficialDGISPR

In efforts to divert attention from precarious situation in IOJ&K,Indian Army increases firing along LOC.
3 Pakistani soldiers embraced shahadat. Pakistan Army responded effectively. 5 Indian soldiers killed, many injured, bunkers damaged. Intermittent exchange of fire continues.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
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An Indian army spokesperson denied the Pakistani army’s statement. “No casualties. This assertion is wrong,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

In a statement quoted by news agencies, the Indian army said that from around 7am Pakistan violated a ceasefire between the two nations in the heavily militarized LoC.

Kashmir status scrapped

The developments come during a period of increasing tensions between India and Pakistan after New Delhi’s Hindu nationalist government last week revoked special status for Indian-administered Kashmir.

The decision by India blocks the right of the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir to frame its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property there.

Telephone lines, internet and television networks have been blocked and there are restrictions on movement and assembly.

READ MORE

Kashmir: India’s Modi hails ‘path-breaking’ changes amid lockdown

In the lead-up to its controversial move on August 5, India also deployed thousands of additional troops and arrested political leaders in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory of Kashmir.

“Details are emerging that there were some damage to homes in the area. Tensions remain high on this border,” Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, said.

“We’ve have been visiting some of these villages, where people have been telling us it is very difficult for normal life to continue there because they live under constant fear.”

On Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the local legislative assembly of the Pakistani-administered Kashmir in Muzaffarabad.

He vowed the time had come to teach New Delhi a lesson and promised to “fight until the end” against any Indian aggression.

Khan has also likened India’s moves in Kashmir to Nazi Germany, accused them of ethnic cleansing, and appealed to the international community to take action.

Pakistan formally asked the United Nations Security Council late on Tuesday to hold an emergency session to address the situation.

READ MORE

Indian activists release report after visiting ‘desolate’ Kashmir

Islamabad has also expelled the Indian ambassador, halted bilateral trade and suspended cross-border transport services.

“I think there is huge lack of trust on the part of the Kashmiri people and more importantly because India jailed a number of moderate pro-India politicians and leaders of the political party, there are really no intermediaries between the Muslim majority population of Indian citizens in the Kashmir valley,” Adnan Naseemullah, a senior lecturer at King’s College London, told Al Jazeera.

“That I think, the lack of ability for representation, to be part of this process, is also going to be very concerning in terms of economic development moving forward.”

Earlier this year Pakistan and India came close to all-out conflict yet again, after a militant attack in Indian-held Kashmir in February was claimed by a group based in Pakistan, igniting tit-for-tat air strikes.

UN to meet Pakistan and China

The UN Security Council is due to meet behind closed-doors on Friday at the request of China and Pakistan to discuss India’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, diplomats said.

Any action by the 15-member council is unlikely as the United States traditionally backs India and China supports Pakistan.

READ MORE

Kashmir special status explained: What are Articles 370 and 35A?

“Pakistan will not provoke a conflict. But India should not mistake our restraint for weakness,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi wrote in a letter to the Security Council on Tuesday.

“If India chooses to resort again to the use of force, Pakistan will be obliged to respond, in self-defense, with all its capabilities.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on India and Pakistan to refrain from any steps that could affect the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Guterres also said he was concerned about reports of restrictions on the Indian side of Kashmir.

The Security Council adopted several resolutions in 1948 and in the 1950s on the dispute between India and Pakistan over the region, including one which says a plebiscite should be held to determine the future of the mostly Muslim Kashmir.

Another resolution also calls upon both sides to “refrain from making any statements and from doing or causing to be done or permitting any acts which might aggravate the situation”.

Is Pakistan able to counter India's move in Kashmir?

INSIDE STORY

Is Pakistan able to counter India’s move in Kashmir?

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

Kashmir: How Line of Control has changed in 70 years

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA TODAY NEWS AGENCY)

 

Kashmir: How Line of Control has changed in 70 years

In 1947, 65 per cent area of Jammu and Kashmir was under India’s control. Today, only 45 per cent of princely state area is under its control.

Siachen Line of Control

Indian Army jawans performing yoga drills in Siachen. (Photo: PTI)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Karachi Agreement of 1949 brought first war to end and defined ceasefire line
  • Ceasefire line was formalised as Line of Control in Shimla Agreement of 1972
  • India established its base in Siachen in 1984 to thwart Pakistan’s surreptitious design

In August 1947, Jammu and Kashmir was a princely state of the size of 2.06 lakh square miles – bigger than California (US) and comparable with the UK. Two months later, Pakistan invaded Jammu and Kashmir despite having signed a standstill agreement with the princely state, which turned to India for help and signed the Instrument of Accession.

India’s response to Pakistani intrusion resulted in a war that was declared over in 1949 with the United Nations intervening and accepting that the merger of Jammu and Kashmir with India was legal. A ceasefire line (CFL) was drawn depending on the actual positions held by the two armies — led on both sides by British generals.

The ceasefire line temporarily bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir with India getting control of about 65 per cent of the state and Pakistan the rest 35 per cent.

The ceasefire line was to begin from a point at Manawar — south of Chenab river – in Jammu and move northward till Keran. And, from Keran, the ceasefire line was to run northward till last then recognisable point known as NJ9842 and follow the mountain crestline further north up to international border with China.

This NJ9842 can be considered as the base for Siachen glacier. This demarcation was based on the impression that the crestline follows a northward direction. The high mountains in the trans-Himalayan region had not yet been fully explored.

The ceasefire line was formalized in a Karachi Agreement signed in July 1949 between India and Pakistan with two UN observers signing as witnesses. It has been reported that Jawaharlal Nehru had briefed the Indian delegation going to Karachi on UN resolution.

This resolution meant, Nehru told the delegation, that any “no man’s land” – if left undemarcated by the ceasefire line agreement — would belong to India on account of Jammu and Kashmir’s legal merger with India.

The sanctity of the ceasefire line was to be maintained till the final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue. However, two incidents altered status quo on Jammu and Kashmir during 1960s — the India-China War of 1962 and India-Pakistan War of 1965.

China humbled India in 1962 war and captured nearly 20 per cent area of the princely state. This area is called Aksai Chin and China denies India’s sovereignty over the cold desert region.

Further in 1963, Pakistan signed an agreement with China and handed over about 2,000 sq miles area in northern Kashmir to China, which has held all of that since then.

Map of Jammu and Kashmir with demarcations for areas occupied by Pakistan and also captured by China. (Photo: Twitter/@PraveenOni)

The 1965 war saw both India and Pakistan occupying each other’s territories – India capturing over 750 sq miles while Pakistan taking over about 200 sq miles. But with Tashkent agreement, both militaries returned to their previous positions including along the Line of Control.

It was the 1971 war between India and Pakistan over the question of Bangladesh that turned the ceasefire line into the Line of Control (LoC), as it is known today. There was no LoC before 1972 Shimla Agreement was signed between India and Pakistan. This agreement also practically junked the UN resolution as the two countries agreed to resolve all disputes through bilateral talks.

The Line of Control, thus drawn, gave Pakistan control over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, which Pakistan has since declared the Northern Areas and rules directly. Rest of the Jammu and Kashmir minus Aksai Chin is situated on the Indian side of Line of Control.

The Line of Control changed further in 1984 to thwart Pakistan’s surreptitious design to capture Siachen glacier. Siachen glacier came in the focus of the Pakistan Army in 1970s, following the massive defeat in 1971 war.

An Indian colonel Narendra Kumar is said to have read in an international mountaineering magazine about Pakistan’s attempt over Siachen glacier. This prompted him to lead a team to Siachen glacier in 1981. His team scaled several peaks in the area and reached up to Indira Col (not named after Indira Gandhi).

Col is a pass in high mountains. The Indira Col was named so by an American geographer in 1912 (Indira Gandhi was born in 1917) after one of the names of Goddess Lakshami.

Map of Siachen glacier showing the Line of Control running from NJ9842 to Indira Col. (Photo: WikiCommons)

Pakistanis got to know about this Indian expedition to Siachen glacier a little later when they found a crumbled packet of made-in-India cigarette. They went about their plan to capture Siachen aggressively now and ordered a full range of mountaineering gear from a London-based firm, which was a supplier to Indian Army.

The information leaked to India and the Indian Army launched Operation Meghdoot to turn Siachen into as one of its bases. Siachen is the largest glacier in trans-Himalayan region. It is a triangular bloc of 76 km length.

Pakistan claims that Siachen glacier belongs to the part of Jammu and Kashmir given to its control under the ceasefire line (Karachi 1949) and the Line of Control (Shimla 1972) agreements. Accordingly, the Line of Control should run from NJ9842 to northward till Karakoram Pass, the meeting point of India’s boundary with China.

However, the Indian argument has been that the crestline beyond NJ9842 follows a northwest direction and ends with Indira Col of Siachen glacier. Indira Col is the area where territories of Jammu and Kashmir meet the lands occupied (1947) by Pakistan and gifted (1963) to China.

The existing Line of Control runs from Manawar in Jammu to Indira Col on the tri-junction in Karakoram mountain range. The Indian and Pakistani troops have to maintain a no-man’s land of 500 yards on each side of the Line of Control.

Kashmir dispute: Residents attend Friday prayers amid lockdown

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Kashmir dispute: Residents attend Friday prayers amid lockdown

Media caption Young Kashmiris on India’s decision: “We’ve been pushed back into medieval times”

A security lockdown in Indian-administered Kashmir remains largely in place although residents have been allowed to attend Friday prayers in some local mosques.

However the main mosque in Srinagar is closed and tight restrictions continue.

Thousands of troops are still patrolling the streets four days after the Indian government revoked the Muslim-majority state’s autonomy.

The area has been under a virtual communications blackout since Sunday.

Some people have reported that they are now able to access the internet, and mobile phone signals appear to be active in some parts of Srinagar – the main city in Indian-administered Kashmir. But connectivity is yet to be fully restored.

However, the BBC’s Aamir Peerzada in Srinagar says that a curfew imposed on Monday remains in place. PM Narendra Modi has promised Kashmiris that they will be able to celebrate the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha on Sunday.

India deployed tens of thousands of troops to Muslim-majority Kashmir ahead of Monday’s announcement that Article 370 – as the constitutional provision granting the region special status is known – was to be revoked.

Security personnel stand guard at a roadblock ahead of Muslim's Friday noon prayers in Jammu.Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption There are tens of thousands of troops in the region

Since that controversial announcement, it has detained hundreds of people including politicians, activists and academics in makeshift centers in an effort to quell protests.

But sporadic violence has already broken out. BBC reporters saw some protesters throwing stones at security forces, and spoke to residents who said they feared that the situation could worsen significantly.

In the past, Kashmir has witnessed protests after Friday prayers.

Media caption Baramulla resident: ‘Our livelihood is affected, nobody is at peace’

Despite an earlier police announcement about the easing of restrictions to facilitate prayers, Jama Masjid, Srinagar’s largest mosque, remains closed.

Correspondents say that this was ostensibly to avoid the gathering of a large crowd that could potentially turn violent.

It’s unclear if the mosque will open on Sunday for the beginning of Eid. A decision to keep it closed could trigger protests.

Kashmir map

Delhi has had a tumultuous relationship with the valley for decades – there has been an armed insurgency against Indian rule there since 1989, with thousands of lives lost. Massive protests have regularly broken out and Indian security forces have repeatedly been accused of human rights abuses in putting down demonstrations.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared on state media on Thursday to defend his government’s highly controversial decision and said a “new era” was beginning for the region, where “hindrances” to its development had been lifted.

“There will be a lot of development,” he said. “All the citizens will be given their rights.”

Media caption‘Kashmir is a volcano waiting to erupt’

Why is Kashmir controversial?

Kashmir is a Himalayan region that both India and Pakistan say is fully theirs.

The area was once a princely state called Jammu and Kashmir, but it joined India in 1947 when the sub-continent was divided up at the end of British rule.

India and Pakistan subsequently went to war over it and each came to control different parts of the territory with a ceasefire line agreed.

A policeman looks at trucks stranded on the Jammu-Srinagar highway in Nagrota, near Jammu, on August 9, 2019,Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe lockdown has left trucks stranded on the Jammu-Srinagar highway

How significant is Article 370?

The article allowed the state a certain amount of autonomy – its own constitution, a separate flag and freedom to make laws. Foreign affairs, defence and communications remained the preserve of the central government.

As a result, Jammu and Kashmir could make its own rules relating to permanent residency, ownership of property and fundamental rights. It could also bar Indians from outside the state from purchasing property or settling there.

The constitutional provision has underpinned India’s often fraught relationship with Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority region to join India when the sub-continent was partitioned.

India: Terrorists moved by Pak ahead of Imran Khan’s US visit are back at LoC

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Terrorists moved by Pak ahead of Imran Khan’s US visit are back at LoC

Imran Khan met US President Donald Trump last week on July 22. For the first time, a Pakistani prime minister was accompanied by the country’s army chief, General Qamar Bajwa and spy agency Inter services Intelligence’s chief, Faiz Hameed.

INDIA Updated: Aug 03, 2019 09:10 IST

Harinder Baweja
Harinder Baweja
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Fresh intelligence reports now indicate that 200 to 250 terrorists are back at the launch pads waiting to infiltrate into India. (AP File Photo)
Fresh intelligence reports now indicate that 200 to 250 terrorists are back at the launch pads waiting to infiltrate into India. (AP File Photo)

Intelligence reports and satellite imagery of the line of control bordering Pakistan reveal that the country cleared all launch pads of terrorists in the run-up to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Washington last week – and then brought them back after his return.

“For several days, we got reports saying there are no terrorists at the launch pads waiting to infiltrate into India. It was very surprising because the period between May and October is when infiltration bids are made,” a senior army officer who has seen the intelligence reports said on condition of anonymity.

Khan met US President Donald Trump last week on July 22. For the first time, a Pakistani prime minister was accompanied by the country’s army chief, General Qamar Bajwa and spy agency Inter services Intelligence’s chief, Faiz Hameed. The assessment in Delhi is that Pakistan did not want any skirmish on LoC to spoil the high-level meeting, a first since 2015.

Fresh intelligence reports now indicate that 200 to 250 terrorists are back at the launch pads waiting to infiltrate into India, the army official added. The ceasefire violation in the Valley’s Gurez sector on Tuesday was an infiltration attempt, the army officer confirmed. “We could see two bodies (of terrorists) lying (there) ,” he said.

An intelligence official confirmed that the launch pads were vacated and the terrorists shifted to villages close to the line of control for the duration of about two weeks. “The border has become active again and we are expecting more ceasefire violations,” this person added on condition of anonymity.

Also read|‘Foiled Pak Army’s bid to attack Amarnath Yatra,’ Army says with proof

Heavy artillery fire duels between India and Pakistan too escalated this week in the Tangdhar and Keran sector. In another ceasefire violation in the Sunderbani sector, one Indian soldier was killed.

At a press conference in Srinagar on Friday, Chinar Corps Commander, Lt Gen KJS Sandhu said Pakistan was continuing with its infiltration bids and was trying to “disrupt peace in the Valley.”

There was a spike in ceasefire violations after the Balakot air strike at a Jaish-e-Mohammed facility in February, soon after the attack in Pulwama, in which a vehicle laden with explosives rammed into a CRPF convoy, killing 40 troopers.

The border has come alive once again and the thinking in the Indian security establishment is that Pakistan will up the ante. “The assessment in Pakistan is that they had a good trip to Washington and are happy with Trump’s offer to mediate on Kashmir,” an Indian official said, asking not to be identified.

First Published: Aug 03, 2019 05:45 IST

Pak blinks, offers ‘moratorium’ on artillery firing to ease LoC tensions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Pak blinks, offers ‘moratorium’ on artillery firing to ease LoC tensions

Pakistan has offered to remove its Special Service Group (SSG) – the special forces of Pakistan – from the LoC and even suggested a “moratorium on the artillery fire from both sides,” a report sent to the Prime Minister’s Office said.

INDIA Updated: May 11, 2019 16:31 IST

Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Hindustan times, New Delhi
LoC tension,Pakistan,Special Service group
The government had warned the Indian Army and especially the Corps Commanders to take “adequate precautions” to prevent cross-border raids by the Pakistani army after the Pulwama suicide attack. (Photo by Nitin Kanotra / Hindustan Times)

Islamabad has blinked first in the staring battle along the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border between India and Pakistan. Under sustained pressure from India, Pakistan has offered to de-escalate tensions along the LoC . The offer to India was made by the Pakistani military “through the institutionalised military channels of communication between the two sides,” a senior official in the Indian security establishment said on condition of anonymity.

The Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries are regularly in touch and HT learns that the offer may have come during such an interaction.

Pakistan has offered to remove its Special Service Group (SSG) – the special forces of Pakistan – from the LoC and even suggested a “moratorium on the artillery fire from both sides,” a report sent to the Prime Minister’s Office said. HT has seen a copy of the report.

After the Pulwama suicide car bomb attack by a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist on February 26, which left 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) dead and led to the subsequent air strikes by the Indian Air Force on Jaish’s training camp at Balakot in Pakistan, Islamabad moved special forces and troops along the LoC and the border and “maintained a precautionary deployment”.

India’s pressure on Pakistan was not just along the border, but diplomatic as well. With the US, UK, and France backing India, China agreed to remove its so-called “technical hold” on declaring Maulana Masood Azhar, the emir of JeM, a global terrorist by the United Nations Security Council. Simultaneously, India is also pushing the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF), a global body that watches money laundering and terror funding, to blacklist Pakistan.

In the report, the Indian Army has said that there have been “no infiltration attempts,” and “no attempt to (carry out) cross border tactical action since the Pulwama terror attack.” Interestingly, terror launch pads along the LoC, from which terrorists infiltrate India are empty. “Terror infrastructure in close vicinity of the LoC has been temporarily closed due to overall pressure being maintained on Pakistan,” the Indian Army added in the report.

The thinning out of terror launch pads were reported “from active areas like Poonch and Rajouri as well,” a senior defence ministry official said, asking not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “These are clear on-ground signals from Pakistan for de-escalation.” Recently, when formations along the LoC also repaired bunkers –an annual feature to prepare for the monsoons– the “Pakistan army didn’t interfere,” the official added.

The government had warned the Indian Army and especially the Corps Commanders to take “adequate precautions” to prevent cross-border raids by the Pakistani army after the Pulwama suicide attack. And, while the Indian Air Force was planning air strikes, the Indian Army reinforced its positions along the border and adopted an aggressive posture all along the LoC and the international border. “There were over 100 instances when artillery was used,” the official said and added that “the use of artillery has considerably reduced now.” Pakistan army positions along the border from where Border Action Teams could be launched into India were especially targeted. “In the initial days, several Pakistan Army positions were destroyed, and we have not allowed them to rebuild or these positions,” a second senior official in the ministry of defence said on condition of anonymity.

First Published: May 11, 2019 07:13 IST

LoC: Line Of Control, Really? Then Us It! Kashmir-Jammu

My Philosophy On This Issue

This commentary is admittedly by a person who has never stepped foot in the region. My opinions formed are from thousands of miles away, formed by TV News slots and articles I have read. I look for only one thing, and that is peace. I look for the day that no one will ever need to defend themselves, because it is the day there is no such thing as an aggressor. I am realistic to the lack of love between segments of Pakistan and India. There has been bitter issues throughout the region for centuries, there is little love loss between many of the people who favor Islam and those who favor Hindu or even the Buddhist  Seventy years ago when India and Pakistan were formed it was a bitter and bloody divide.

 

As you probably know, most of the people on the Pakistan side of the LoC are people who believe in Islam. Also, almost all of the people on the India side of the LoC are Hindu. If the LoC has any real meaning, if it has been good enough for a temporary fix, cement the foundation in concrete and use it now, mark it with a forever marker. Here in the U.S. this would not be Constitutional but maybe there? Can the two governments work out a deal where all Hindu people in Pakistan are given free, peaceful, safe passage out of Pakistan to India on the India side of the LoC. India should do exactly the same thing, all of the people who are believers in Islam and would prefer to be citizens of Pakistan should go and do so. My suggestion for the leaders of Pakistan and of India, make the LoC, the final border between the two Countries. This is a harsh thing that I suggest I guess you call this segregation but in some cases of physical hatred, safety of all must come first. Learn to grow, to become peaceful neighbors and trading partners. Or, you can just go on as is, hating and killing, you, your wife, your kids. I pray that we can all find peace, before and after we die.

 

 

Hate And Fear For Villagers Living Near The ‘Line Of Control” (LOC)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

An unending ordeal for Kashmiri villagers on ‘live’ Indo-Pak border

Villagers barely two to three kilometers away from the zero line and in the direct line of fire have witnessed maximum number of skirmishes and casualties.

INDIA Updated: Oct 05, 2017 08:10 IST

Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Allah/Arnia
Villagers say the tender minds of children, getting exposed to bloodshed and deaths at a young age, are left with a permanent scar.
Villagers say the tender minds of children, getting exposed to bloodshed and deaths at a young age, are left with a permanent scar.(Nitin Kanotra/HT File Photo)

More than 45,000 people across 42 villages and the most-populated border town of Arnia on Indo-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir see themselves as sitting ducks for Pakistani artillery.

Some of the villages in Arnia sub-sector of Jammu district that witnessed skirmishes from September 13 to September 23 are barely two to three kilometres away from the zero line and are in the line of direct fire.

Guns on either side of 198-km long Indo-Pak international border fall silent intermittently, but villagers are sceptical of the fragile peace and live in a constant fear.

The two nuclear neighbours had agreed to a ceasefire in November 2003 but that now lies in tatters, as different parts of the line of control and the International Border whistle to the sound of mortar shelling. The arc has widened but Arnia remains in the constant gaze of Pakistan.

Artillery horror

Chuni Lal, 63, a marginal farmer in Allah village, who lost his wife Ratno Devi, 50, on the intervening night of September 16 and 17 to a Pakistani mortar, recounts the spine-chilling horror.

“Pakistan was raining mortars that night. All of us… my wife, two married sons, their wives and my six grand-children had huddled inside a room. Electricity had snapped after a mortar hit transmission lines. Around 2 am I shifted to an adjoining lobby as it was hot and sultry inside the room. Around 2.30 am my wife and daughter-in-law (Rajni Devi) came to lobby and had just opened the door when a mortar exploded with a deafening sound in our verandah. My wife’s left ankle was blown away and she suffered serious injuries in her abdomen too. Rajni was also bleeding profusely.”

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Lal sought a neighbour’s help, who drove his car for nearly two hours to shift Lal, Ratno Devi and Rajni Devi to a hospital in Jammu city where Ratno died.

Besides Ratno Devi, a BSF jawan Brijendra Bahadur was killed and over a dozen villagers were injured in Arnia in Pakistani firing that began on September 13.

Lal’s two sons Om Prakash, 46, and Subhash Chander, 40, work as labourers and do petty jobs to support the family.

Traumatised children

Subhash’s wife Rajni Devi, who had suffered serious injuries, along with her two daughters Mamta, 15, Janvi, 13, and son Nitish, 9, have been living in a relative’s house in a safe village, away from Pakistan’s firing range and away from their school as well.

Pakistan had rained 82 mm and 120 mm mortars — battalion level low trajectory weapons — on hapless villagers.

“The children are traumatised from what they saw that night. They don’t want to return home and we also are apprehensive of this fragile peace. Death stalks us all the time but we don’t have any option” says Subhash.

Grim future

Forget children’s education, the people in the border belt of Arnia are deprived of a normal life, says Subhash.

In Arnia sub-sector, the state government has shut 33 government schools with a total enrolment of around 1500 students within five km radius of the border.

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Fifty-year-old Gopal Dass, a small farmer in Allah village says, “Education is important, rather indispensable in present times but how could our children pursue it in such a hostile and uncertain atmosphere?”

Dass divulges another aspect of the shelling. “At very young age these children get exposed to loud explosions, bloodshed and deaths. It leaves a permanent scar on their tender minds but then who cares for the children of a lesser God?”

HT came across a group of small children aged between 5 to 12 years at Pindi Charakan village.

When asked why they weren’t in their schools, six-year-old Tannu replied, “Pakistan bomb chalata hai na. School band hain. Humko chupna padta hai. (“Pakistan bombs us. Schools are closed. We have to go into hiding during shelling).”

Farming hit hard

Another farmer Rattan Lal, 63, says, “While a family (of Chuni Lal) has been ruined, unexploded shells are still lying in the agricultural fields. The farmers are still not going to their fields because you never know when Pakistan starts firing at us. They cannot be trusted. Initially, heavy shelling destroyed our paddy crop, especially in the fields beyond barbed fence (towards Pakistani territory), and now out of fear, we are not able to irrigate whatever is left.”

Lal, like several other villagers, feels that they are caught in a Catch-22 situation. Farming, by and large, is the major source of livelihood in the border areas.

Thoru Ram, 56, informs that though there has been no firing since September 23, the BSF as a precautionary measure, was not allowing farmers to go to their fields beyond the barbed fence.

“Farmers on other side (in Pakistan) are also not coming to their fields,” he says.

7,000 people, one bunker

Allah village with a population of 7,000 has only one bunker where an optimum of 30 people can take refuge during shelling.

The villagers dubbed it a cruel joke as water seeps in and fills almost half the bunker during monsoons. “It turns into a pool of water and is of no use. The government has spent Rs 5 lakh on it but it would have been far better and practical had the government constructed individual bunkers in the houses of the villagers,” says Thoru Ram, 56.

“When mortars are being rained, how could one think of reaching one corner of the village to get into the bunker? I think government of the day should apply some mind,” he mocks.

In Rajouri district, hundred bunkers are being constructed while the state government has submitted a proposal to the Centre for constructing 621 community bunkers at a cost of Rs 6 lakh each and 8,197 individual bunkers at a cost of Rs 2.40 lakh each.

Pakistan’s arc of fire

Since May 1, when Pakistani Border Action Teams killed and beheaded two Indian soldiers — JCO Paramjit Singh and BSF head constable Prem Sagar — in Krishna Ghati (KG) sector of Poonch district, there has been no let up in Pakistani firing and shelling in Rajouri and Poonch border districts.

In Nowshera sector of Rajouri, incessant Pakistani shelling triggered migration of over 4,000 villagers to six relief camps in Nowshera town in May.

Pakistan also opened other fronts along the international border in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts from August onwards.

“It has been a pattern of the enemy (Pakistan). During summers when there is no snow on the mountains and passes, Pakistan tries to push terrorists via LoC in Poonch and Rajouri districts and in winters their focus shifts to international border in Jammu region, usually Hiranagar, RS Pura, Arnia and Ramgarh. In the process they adopt all ploys of opening unprovoked fire on our posts and then flaring up the situation by targeting villages,” says a senior Army officer.

A police officer said that Arnia, the largest border town of the state just three km from the border is a soft target for Pakistan. The town has a population of nearly 20,000.

“They (Pakistan Rangers) are known for targeting hapless villagers and they know it is thickly populated,” the officer adds.

However, defence officials say there are other reasons, which can’t be shared in public domain.

Pakistan has no option but to stop ceasefire violations

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Pakistan has no option but to stop ceasefire violations, says Rajnath Singh

Even as frontier villagers continue the bear the brunt of Pakistani ceasefire violations, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh says Islamabad must eventually stop firing at Indian villages.

INDIA Updated: Sep 12, 2017 00:07 IST

Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Jammu
File photo of Indian soldiers near the Line of Control (LoC) in Nowshera sector in Poonch after a ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops.
File photo of Indian soldiers near the Line of Control (LoC) in Nowshera sector in Poonch after a ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops. (PTI)

Union home Rajnath Singh on Monday warned Islamabad to mend its ways and stop firing at Indian posts and villages along the 744 km long Line of Control and 198- km long International Border in Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh’s warning followed the latest ceasefire violation by the Pakistani army in Shahpur Kerni sector of Poonch district in the morning.

Addressing displaced border villagers at a relief camp in Nowshera town in Rajouri district, Singh said that he had told the BSF DG in 2014 that “we shouldn’t fire first but if they (Pakistani forces) fire even a single bullet then there should be no count of bullets from our side.”

He was accompanied by Union minister Jitendra Singh and Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh.

“The situation has improved from what it was in 2014 after security forces were authorised to retaliate strongly. It will improve further in the days to come. Pakistan has no option but to stop ceasefire violations today or tomorrow. I assure all of you that situation will improve in the coming days,” he said.

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Singh said he had told the director general of border-guarding force Pakistan Ranger in 2015 that Pakistan was resorting to firing violating certain protocols which should be respected and followed.

“India today is not a weak country anymore. It is a changed country under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi. The world today has started acknowledging India as a force to reckon with. India’s image has changed across the world today,” he asserted.

Nowshera is the place from where the Indian army had launched its surgical strikes on September 29 last year on terror launch pads in Bhimber Gali area across the LoC.

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But since May this year, over 4000 people have been displaced from several villages along the LoC in Nowshera sector following several ceasefire violations by Pakistani forces.

These displaced people have been living in six relief camps. During their interaction with Singh, the migrants demanded that “bunkers” be set up at their homes along the LoC.

“Our first and foremost demand is that the government should set up bunkers in each of the border houses if we have to live again along the LoC. We need bunkers more than food,” Jangarh resident Parshottam Kumar, the president of the Border Migrants Coordination Committee, told Singh.

The home minister heaped praise on the border villagers describing them “strategic assets” of the country.

“Though no amount of money can ever compensate a human life, it was our government that raised the ex-gratia to the next of kin of those who die in Pakistani firing from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. Those with more than 50% disability are also entitled for RS 5 lakh compensation,” he said.

Rajnath Singh said that the country was indebted to the border residents. He said he would ensure that 60% posts were kept reserved for the youth of border areas in recruitment drive for various central police and paramilitary forces.

The home minister began a four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir on September 9 as part of an exercise to find solutions to the problems that the state faces.

(With PTI inputs)