Will Make It Unaffordable For You, India Tells Pak

9 October 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ajay Banerjee & Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

New Delhi: Defence Minister Arun Jaitley today broke his silence on the ongoing cross-border firing between India and Pakistan saying the neighbouring country will not be able to bear the cost of this 'adventurism' if it persists with such 'unprovoked' aggression. This comes amid incessant overnight firing by Pakistan Rangers that left at least 15 persons, including three BSF jawans, injured along the 198-km-long International Border in Jammu and Kashmir. Over 30,000 persons from Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts have been evacuated to safer areas. Pakistan targeted at least 70 Indian posts and 110 villages in Hiranagar, Ramgarh, Samba, Arnia, RS Pura, Kanachak and Pargwal sub-sectors overnight even as the two sides hardened their positions and did not ask for a flag meeting. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address at an election rally in Baramati, Maharashtra, said Pakistan has realised that times have changed and their old habits will not be tolerated... Where the jawans have to speak, they speak with their finger on the trigger... And they will continue to speak that way'. Modi criticised those targeting the government on the border flare-up through a public discourse, saying it demoralised the jawans fighting on the border. 'People know my intentions and I need not express those in words.' The Defence Minister, who spoke to the media at his official residence in New Delhi, said: 'If Pakistan persists with this adventurism, our forces will make the cost of this adventurism unaffordable.' The forces - the Army and the BSF - have been doing a commendable job in the face of these unprovoked acts of aggression by Pakistan, he said. Jaitley accused Islamabad of having triggered the latest round of firing. 'Pakistan, in these attacks, has clearly been the aggressor. But it must realise that our deterrence will be credible.' India is a responsible state and 'is never an aggressor but at the same time it has a paramount duty to defend its people and territory,' he said. The forces had only one option that is to respond adequately and defend their territory and their people, Jaitley added. 'If Pakistan wants peace on the borders, it should stop what it is doing. As long as that continues how can there be peace?' On Pakistan's motives behind the escalation, Jaitley said he would not like to speculate but firing could be a cover for infiltration and an effort by it to precipitate tension where none existed. He refused to speculate if this was building towards a short skirmish between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. On talks between the leaders of the two countries, Jaitley said: 'How can you talk when firing is on?' He refused to comment on Bilawal Bhutto's remark about Modi. Meanwhile, Border Security Force Director-General DK Pathak has said he has submitted a report to the Ministry of Home Affairs on the situation along the border. The report says the firing started from the Pakistan side on October 2, just hours after India defeated Pakistan in the Asian Games Hockey final in South Korea. Also, Union Minister of State Dr Jitendra Singh said the response to the Pakistan firing had proved beyond doubt that Indian forces were competent to fight the enemy on the border. Those who were hesitant or scared of coming out wholeheartedly in praise of the Army and paramilitary were, in fact, either trying to appease separatist elements in Kashmir or afraid of causing displeasure to militants, he added. Pakistan has so far been firing 82 mm mortars - a battalion-level weapon, which has an optimum range of 5 km. Against the backdrop of Pakistan's truce violations and shelling of civilian areas, Indian defences were being reinforced along the borders, including Line of Control, say sources.So far, seven civilians have been killed and 74 injured in shelling by Pakistan along the International Border. 'Pakistani Rangers continued with unprovoked mortar shelling and heavy automatic weapons firing on nearly 70 BSF posts along the IB since 8.45 pm last night, but we responded in a befitting manner,' said a senior BSF officer. Three BSF men from 192 Battalion sustained injuries at a forward post in Arnia around 6.25 am today, he said. The injured - head constable BS Rakhi, constable Irfan Khan and constable Meti - have been shifted to a government hospital in Jammu. Ten civilians were injured in the Arnia area of RS Pura sub-division and three others from a family were hurt in Kanachak village in Akhnoor sector today, said a police officer. At Kanachak village, Bachan Lal (50), his wife Kamla Devi and Bachan's younger brother Makhan Lal were injured when a mortar exploded in their house around 11 pm last night, said Jammu Deputy Commissioner AK Sahu. The victims were shifted to Government Medical College in Jammu by Naib Sarpanch Raj Kumar. Two more persons were injured at Nanga village of Ramgarh sub-sector in Samba district. A senior official said more than 20,000 people have migrated from border hamlets in Jammu, and another 10,000 from Kathua and Samba districts to relief camps or to their relatives' houses.