The Indian Army on Tuesday accused Pakistani Border Action Team of ambushing an Indian army patrol and killing five of its troopers on the Line of Control (LoC), however, Pakistan has strongly rejected the Indian stance.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman said Pakistan remained committed to the ceasefire agreement of 2003, which was an important confidence building measure and should be respected in letter and spirit.
Earlier in the day, Indian Army said a patrol of Indian army “comprising of a non-commissioned officer and five other ranks was ambushed by a Pakistan Border Action Team close to the Line of Control in Poonch sector early morning. In the ensuing firefight, five Indian soldiers were martyred.”
The issue of killings rocked Indian parliament, with enraged lawmakers from the opposition demanding a response from the government. Both Houses of parliament were adjourned amid noisy scenes over the killings.
Chief minister of Indian-held Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, said “I was briefed early this morning about the news that five of our soldiers had been killed on the LoC. My heartfelt condolences to their next of kin”.
Union Minister Farooq Abdullah said the incident would affect the process of normalisation between India and Pakistan.
“The hand of friendship cannot be extended from one side only. Pakistan has to stop the killings of Indian soldiers. The dialogue process cannot resume if such a situation continues,” he said.
The leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, said the incident had serious defence, security and foreign policy implications.
BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government should come out with a clear-cut and firm response to the latest Pakistani attack which had become a weekly affair.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi accused the government of laxity in securing Indian borders.
Indian Defense Minister AK Antony in a statement to Indian parliament said New Delhi had lodged a strong protest with Islamabad through diplomatic channels. According to India’s official broadcaster All India Radio (AIR), Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner Mansoor Ahmed Khan was summoned by Indian authorities in New Delhi to deliver a strong diplomatic message.
The killings have come at a time when New Delhi and Islamabad were trying to normalise ties and resume talks. The killings are likely to overshadow the resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue process.
Kashmir, the Himalayan region divided between India and Pakistan is claimed by both in full. Since the independence from British, the two countries have fought three wars, two exclusively over Kashmir.
In January this year, skirmishes between armies of the two neighbours claimed lives of five troopers (two from India and three from Pakistan). Both blamed each other of violating the ceasefire.
In 2003, New Delhi and Islamabad agreed to observe a ceasefire along the international border and LoC in Kashmir.
Though some violations have been reported on both sides, the ceasefire remains in effect. Indian Army said it had killed 14 militants near LoC in frontier Kupwara district, northwest of Srinagar city, during a sequel of gunfights that continued last week.
According to Indian officials, the militants were trying to infiltrate into Indian-controlled part.
According to Indian Defence Ministry, at least 57 ceasefire violations have been recorded this year.