In Jammu And Kashmir, War Fears As Army Ups Readiness

In Jammu And Kashmir, War Fears As Army Ups Readiness

26 October 2013
Deccan Chronicle
Yusuf Jameel

Srinagar: War clouds may not exactly be hovering over Jammu and Kashmir, but the Army seems to be upping its state of readiness for combat, triggering panic among the people living in areas close to the Line of Control (LoC). Particularly in Uri (Bara­mulla), Keran and Tanghdhar (Kupwara) areas, the people are worried as they see troops engaged in “military readiness for combat” drills over the last few days. Residents interviewed by reporters over the phone said they see “unusual” movement by troops in the border belt, including in Mahura, Rajarwani and Kalgi areas. However, Army officials here said that since Pakistani troops have indulged in frequent violations of the ceasefire along the LoC and also International Border (IB) and the incidence of the infiltration by militants has only increased in recent weeks, the troops have been put on high alert. “In such situations, the Army should not be expected to be inert,” said an officer on the condition of anonymity. A senior police official, however, said on phone from Kupwara, “Since tensions are on the rise and as disturbing reports are emanating from a few border areas, especially in Jammu region, we can’t but keep our fingers crossed.” A resident of Uri said he saw the troops moving Bofors guns and other pieces of artillery out of the artillery parks and other storage areas. As Indian and Pakistani border guards once again exchanged small arms and mortar fire at several places along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, six civilians - three each on either side - were injured and private properties damaged. BSF officials said 17 Indian border outposts had been targeted. India has rushed Border Security Force reinforcements to the IB to strengthen defences there and respond “effectively” to the cross-border firing. Some media reports had earlier suggested that Pakistan has replaced the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers with regular Army at some places along the IB. Sources said the Army and BSF authorities have been asked to keep troops on high alert and intensify round-the-clock patrolling along the entire border (IB as well as Line of Control) with Pakistan with the hope that improved border management will help towards “defeating any mischief ”. The BSF has reportedly decided to make fresh efforts to have a flag meeting with the Pakistan Rangers to discuss issues and defuse the situation. Official sources said the BSF authorities had made two attempts to hold flag meetings with their Pakistani counterparts, on October 18 and 20, but on both occasions the Pakistan Rangers’ local commanders did not turn up. The Army, too, seems to be in a state of being prepared for combat, triggering panic among people living in areas close to the LoC. People, particularly in Uri (Baramulla), Keran and Tanghdhar (Kupwara) areas, are worried as they see the troops engaged in “military readiness for combat” over the past few days. Residents interviewed by reporters over the phone said they see “unusual” movements by troops in the border belt, including in Mahura, Rajarwani and Kalgi areas. However, Army officials here said since Pakistani troops have indulged in frequent violations of the ceasefire agreement along the LoC and International Border and the incidence of the infiltration by militants has only increased in recent weeks, the troops have been put on high alert. BSF officials, accusing the Pakistan Rangers of provoking the skirmishes in Arnia, Ramgarh, Ranbir Singh Pura and Akhnoor sectors of Jammu and Samba districts, said mortars and rockets were used to target 17 of its border outposts (BoPs) and some civilian areas.