Four soldiers were killed on Sunday after Pakistani troops allegedly violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control in the Bhimber Gali sector in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district, The Indian Express reported. Higher calibre weapons – either anti-tank missiles or artillery guns – were used, the daily quoted unidentified officials as saying.
The soldiers who lost their lives were from the 15 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Battalion of the Indian Army’s 25 Infantry Division. They were identified as Captain Kapil Kundu, 23, from Haryana, 43-year-old Havildar Roshan Lal from Jammu and Kashmir, Rifleman Ram Avtar, 28, from Madhya Pradesh, and 23-year-old Rifleman Shubam Singh from Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, responding to the incident, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday that Indians have “full faith” in the valour of the Army. He had said on Sunday, “I have given standing orders to our forces to shoot limitless bullets to retaliate.”
The shelling reportedly began in Poonch district’s Shahpur area at 11.15 am and spread to areas in Balakote sector in Mendhar and Manjakote in Rajouri district around 3.30 pm. Five people, including two Armymen, a Border Security Force assistant sub-inspector and two civilians were injured.
“The Indian Army retaliated strongly and effectively, and heavy damage has been inflicted on Pakistani Army posts,” a statement by the Army said. “The unprovoked action by the Pakistani Army will be given a befitting response.”
Between January 18 and January 22, 14 people, including eight civilians, have been killed in firing along the International Border in Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts and the LoC in Poonch and Rajouri districts. More than 300 schools near the LoC and the International Border in Rajouri, Poonch, Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts were closed for a week between January 21 and January 28.
Assembly pitches for peace talks
Lawmakers in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on Monday raised the matter of ceasefire violation and pitched for resuming peace talks. The Assembly was adjourned for 10 minutes during the Zero Hour, reported PTI.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri supported a dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad to restore peace in the region. “Our stand is that peace and reconciliation is the only way, dialogue is the only way,” Veeri said.
Peoples’ Democratic Party MLA Javaid Beig said that instead of provoking Pakistan, both countries should start a dialogue. Bharatiya Janata Party members, however, protested against Beig’s comments.
Leaders of the National Conference also called for strict implementation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan. “We support the statement of Veeri and the young Beig who is right in his approach,” said party leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.