India-Pakistan trade charges over ceasefire violations, civilian deaths
New Delhi/Islamabad: India and Pakistan on Friday blamed each other for violations of the ceasefire at the border, with civilian deaths being reported from both sides amid heavy shelling and firing along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir.
A Border Security Force (BSF) trooper and two civilians were killed and three others injured on Friday in indiscriminate firing and shelling by Pakistan Rangers. Pakistan meanwhile reported that one civilian was killed, and nine were injured on its side in Indian shelling.
India condemned the continued ceasefire violations by Pakistan, stating that it was being done so that terrorists can infiltrate. In Islamabad, Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh was summoned to condemn the "unprovoked ceasefire violations" by Indian forces.
Pakistan Rangers resorted to indiscriminate shelling and firing at 20 border outposts of the BSF along the International Border in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts on Friday.
In Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir, and BSF Head Constable Jagpal Singh, who was injured in the cross border firing succumbed to his injuries. Border Security Force (BSF) officials said it was the third day when Pakistan continued its unprovoked cross border firing, targetting civilian areas.
Two civilians were killed and three others were injured in Pakistani shelling on civilian establishments in Arnia sub-sector of R.S. Pura in Jammu district. The injured civilians were shifted to a hospital.
"The shelling and firing started at 6.40 a.m. and continued intermittently for over four hours. Indian positions effectively and strongly retaliated the Pakistani fire," a police source said.
Authorities have ordered the closure of all schools in areas close to the International Border affected by Pakistan's violation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement as panic gripped the residents of villages in the three districts.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar "strongly condemned" the continued violations by Pakistan, and said it has caused loss of lives and property.
"We, of course, retaliate in such cases and we also take up the matter at the appropriate level with the Pakistani side," he said.
In Islamabad, Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh was summoned at the Foreign Office to condemn the "unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian forces along the International Border in Sialkot Sector".
A Pakistan Foreign Office statement said a 24-year-old man was killed and nine, including women and elderly persons, were injured.
Director General (SA & SAARC) Mohammad Faisal conveyed to Singh that the Indian forces were "continuously engaged in indiscriminate and unprovoked firing with heavy mortars and automatic weapons on the civilian populated villages, since the last two days".
In the statement, Pakistan said that the Indian forces have carried out more than 125 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the International Border in just 19 days in 2018, resulting in the death of four civilians, and injuries to 20 others.
"This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India is continuing from the year 2017 when the Indian forces committed more than 1,900 ceasefire violations," it said.
"The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation", the statement added.
India Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had on January 12 said that India will scale up "action" if Islamabad continues supporting terror and infiltration of militants.
With IANS inputs