Army To Respond To Each & Every Act Of Pak: GOC

Army To Respond To Each & Every Act Of Pak: GOC

18 August 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: There was no let up in heavy firing and shelling by the Pakistan Army, which continued for fifth consecutive day today with some of the shells landing at Dharana and Malikpur, just 200 meters short of Mendhar town in Poonch district aggravating the already flared-up panic among the people of forward areas. The firing continued during the day today and resumed in the night. The ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army have led to suspension of cross-LoC travel and trade. “There will be no cross-LoC travel and trade from the week beginning tomorrow. However, we will make efforts to exchange stranded civilians on both sides,” official sources said. Cross-LoC travel-trade on Poonch-Rawlakote route via Chakan-Da-Bagh was suspended by Pakistan on August 5 for two weeks citing Eid and Independence Day celebrations. It was due to resume tomorrow but, sources said, under the present circumstances when Pakistan was resorting to heavy firing and shelling, there would be no cross-LoC trade-travel tomorrow and onwards for at least for one week or even more days. However, they said, authorities would try to clear the civilians of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), who have been stranded here for past quite sometime. Similarly, the civilians of this side could also be cleared by the PoK administration. A high level 43 members business delegation of Jammu and Kashmir, which was scheduled to leave for PoK on August 26 is also under clout though it has not been cancelled so far, sources said. “The ceasefire violations from Pakistan side continued for ninth consecutive day today in Mendhar, Hamirpur and Balakote sectors of Poonch district. Pakistan Army used heavy fire arms including 82mm mortar shells, automatic and medium mortars, rockets, heavy machine guns, light machine guns, medium machine guns and Pika weapons,” official sources told the Excelsior. They added: “response of the Indian Army was very effective. Definitely, it was much more than the Pakistan Army. We have been responding very effectively to silence the Pakistani guns”. The ceasefire violation from Pakistan side first took place between 1 am to 3.30 am at all three sectors of Mendhar, Hamirpur and Balakote while it again took place at 2 pm during the day today and continued at some places for more than three hours. “There were no casualties or damage on the Indian side but casualties or damage on the other side of the Line of Control (LoC) was not known,” sources said. However, several houses in the forward villages on Indian side have suffered partial damage with pellets of mortar shells landing inside or close to their houses in Mendhar, Hamirpur, Balakote and other surrounding areas. Several cattle have also perished. Cattle sheds have also been damaged in some places. Three Army jawans and four civilians have been injured in the past three days on the Indian side in firing and shelling by the Pakistani troops while as there were confirmed reports of the killing of three Pakistan Army personnel and injury to many others. Sources said the Pakistan Army was now deliberately targeting the civilian areas to force migration of the people so that pressure was built on the Indian Army to stop firing. However, they added, the civilians in the forward areas were standing like a rock and have been asking the Army to give effective reply to Pakistani firing. The civilians were determined not to leave the villages in forward areas. Sources said the Pakistan Army has been frequently firing 82mm mortars with a range of three to four kilometers with a view to target the civil population. There have been 17 ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops in past nine days, Army officials said. Seventy ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops have taken place this year from January 1 to August 5, which is 85 per cent more than those during the same period last year, they added. Meanwhile, sending a strong message to Pakistan over repeated ceasefire violations and BAT attacks, a top Army commander today warned it was making a “serious mistake” and said a befitting reply would be given with “full force” at the time and place of its choice. “You (Pakistan) are making a serious mistake (with regard to ceasefire violations and BAT attacks)– do not do it,” General Officer Commanding (GOC) 25 Infantry Div, Major General V P Singh told reporters in Rajouri. He was replying to volley of questions about what strong message he wants to convey to Pakistan with regard to increase in ceasefire violations, cross border firing and Border Action Team (BAT) attack on forward Indian posts along LoC in Poonch. India has blamed BAT, which is a mix of Pakistani special forces personnel and terrorists, for the brutal killing of its two soldiers in January, one of whom was beheaded, and killing of its five personnel along Line of Control in Sarla battalion area in Poonch sector on August 5 night. “…What you are putting across– it is not going to affect, deter us or weaken our resolve,” Maj Gen Singh said. He further said that the Army is here to respond to each and every act of Pakistan in which ever way it feels so. Regarding Army’s strategy in the wake of the BAT attacks engineered by Pakistan, Maj Gen Singh said: “as far as BAT action is concerned, we are absolutely aware what kind of response it is going to get– that response will be delivered”. “It will be delivered in our own time and at the place of our own choosing and with full force, that you shall see. “It is a military matter– as and when the response is delivered– you will see”, he said, adding “the response would be delivered– we will select our time and place to give a befitting reply to Pakistan with full force,” he said. Maj Gen Singh said Defence Minister (AK Antony) and the Chief of Army Staff (Gen Bikram Singh) have given his command clear directions that violation of ceasefire or any other act of infiltration from across the LoC will be met resolutely with power and full force. “As far as I am concerned, those directions are with me– we are responding and retaliating to the situation as per the requirements with full force”, Maj Gen Singh said. He further said that the Army Chief had also made it clear that Army is free to reply and respond to the BAT attacks as per opportunity and strategy. “As per opportunity and situation, what is to be done - everybody knows it and reply accordingly will be given.” At another media briefing at Bhimbher Gali in Poonch sector along LoC, Brigade Commander, 120 Infantry Brigade, Brig A Sen Gupta said Army has inputs about Pakistan trying to engineer more BAT attacks along the border. Meanwhile, official sources said the fierce exchanges in recent weeks have cast a shadow on the prospect of the 2003 Indo-Pak border truce. India and Pakistan entered into the border ceasefire as a confidence building measure during NDA rule and it will complete one decade on November 26, 2013. The ceasefire violations have been reported on daily basis for past nine days without a break, forcing Indian troops to retaliate, they said. “Pakistan troops have been firing on our forward posts daily for past couple of days. They are firing intensely with mortar bomb, rockets, RPG and high caliber weaponry,” sources said. The Pakistan Army is not only directly firing on the posts but also targeting civilian villages along borderline. “Pakistan is not showing any respect to the Indo-Pak ceasefire. They are violating it daily by firing at us. Where is sanctity of this truce?” sources asked and maintained that Indian troops have always respected the truce despite provocations in the past. Sources said the firing from Pakistani side was aimed at helping terrorists infiltrate and demoralise the troops posted along LoC. “But the morale of our troops is very high,” they added. They said the ceasefire violations are “very intense and totally unprovoked”. “Troops are ready to give a strong response to those firing from across. We have also strongly retaliated in these sectors– their five posts have been damaged in retaliation by us,” sources said. They said Army officers have been asked to respond strongly and effectively. “We have fired heavy caliber weapons from our side in retaliation. They have been firing at us for past over one week without any reason with an intention to cause casualties,” they added. Sources said the ceasefire violations from across are due to frustration over failure of infiltration bids by terrorists. “We have major inputs that there are a large number of terrorists –from 200-300 (waiting to infiltrate),” they said. Since August 10, the Army personnel feel that the daily Pakistani firing has brought the situation back to pre-2003 when jawans were entrenched in their mud posts with LMGs and MMGs round-the-clock to retaliate to any Pakistani provocation. “There was not much firing from Pakistan in past years. It was once of twice in two to three months that major ceasefire violation from Pakistan took place. But this year ceasefire violations and firing has increased. We have accordingly changed our strategy of movements,” sources said. “We are engaged sometimes in night-long exchanges. Peace on the borders seems to have ended,” sources said.