Indian Defence Minister AK Antony on Monday blamed the Pakistani Army for the killings of five Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) and repetitive ceasefire violations.
Making a statement in the Rajya Sabha, Upper House of the Indian parliament, on the situation along the LoC and international border, Antony said, “Firing will have an impact on our stand on LoC and as well as relations with Pakistan.”
The minister accused the Pakistani Army for ambushing five Indian soldiers along the LoC recently, and said, “Nothing can happen on Pakistan’s side of the border without the knowledge of their army.”
He alleged that a specialised team of the Pakistani Army was involved in LoC killings.
The Indian government was forced to make a statement on the ceasefire violations following pressure from the opposition.
As per the Indian Army, Pakistan has allegedly violated ceasefire more than 70 times so far this year – a jump of nearly 85 percent over the same period last year.
Antony said the Indian Army had a freehand to respond to situation on the LoC.
Meanwhile, commenting on the submarine tragedy, Antony said, “Initial assessment indicates that internal problem led to explosion on INS Sindhurakshak.”
“It is possible that all 18 personnel may not have survived,” he added.
“A board of inquiry has been formed to investigate the cause of fire,” the minister said.
“The navy has ordered an audit of SOPs and checks on all weapon-related safety systems on board its submarines,” he told the Rajya Sabha.
Meanwhile, the armies of India and Pakistan on Monday once again targeted each other’s positions with heavy artillery along the LoC in Kashmir for the 10th straight day, Indian officials said.
The ceasefire violations took place along LoC in Hamirpur and Balakote belts of frontier Poonch district, around 185kms southwest of Srinagar.
According to officials, heavy exchange of fire between the armies started on Sunday evening and continued until Monday morning.
“Pakistani Army last evening again fired at our positions in Hamirpur and Balakote,” alleged SN Acharaya, Indian army spokesman in Jammu.
“Our side also retaliated and the firing was going on until 6:15 am on Monday.”
Both sides used mortars, RPGs and automatic weapons, besides heavy machine guns to target each other’s posts on the LoC, officials said.
Acharaya said the Indian side has not suffered any damage in Monday’s firing.
Both India and Pakistan blame each other of resorting to unprovoked firing that triggers skirmishes resulting in civilian or troop casualties on either side.
In other development, the Indian Army expressed fear of commando attacks of new pattern on the borders, alleging that Pakistan Army had set up Border Action Team (BAT) comprising commandos and hardened jingoists for murderous attacks.
Brig A Sengupta, commander Indian Army 20-infantry brigade, told reporters in Poonch that besides ceasefire violations, commandos attacks from Pakistan Army could escalate in the upcoming days.
He said reports had been received from intelligence agencies that Pakistan Army had set up contingents consisting of hardened jingoists and special military commandos to target Indian Army deployed close to Line of Control (LoC).
He disclosed that the commandos included in BAT were those who had earlier killed two Indian troops mercilessly in January 2013 and recently killed five army personnel after infiltrating into Poonch sector.