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LoC violation a cause for concern, says Antony

July 29, 2008 17:23 IST
Last Updated: July 29, 2008 18:03 IST

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With as many as 19 violations of the Line of Control recorded since January 2008, India on Tuesday told Pakistan to respect the 2003 ceasefire agreement between the two countries.

"The increase in ceasefire violations and firings across the LoC is a matter of concern to India," Defence Minister A K Antony said in a statement, a day after army troops repulsed a Pakistani incursion in the Nowgam sector of northern Kashmir, which left one Indian soldier dead.

Attributing the large number of violations with attempts to infiltrate militants, Antony said the situation along the 742-km LoC is being constantly reviewed.

"Keeping in view the increased attempts to infiltrate, the counter-infiltration grid in the state has been suitably strengthened by our troops to check such incidents," he said.

The defence minister told Islamabad that it should strictly adhere to the existing mechanism for dealing with violations by holding local flag meetings and director general of military operations-level talks.

The minister's strong statement came as India and Pakistan held battalion-level flag meeting at the intrusion site.

New Delhi [Images] also lodged a protest when DGMO Lt Gen A S Sekhon got in touch with his Pakistani counterpart through the hotline.

While maintaining that India is keeping "adequate restraint" to prevent escalation of tensions, Antony asserted that India is fully prepared to deal with any such instances "firmly."

Most of the 19 ceasefire violations have taken place in Poonch and Rajouri areas of Jammu. There have also been
violations in Uri, Kupwara, Tanghdar, Machail and Gurez sectors.

Army sources said that most of these violations were in June and July.

The firing from both sides on Monday continued overnight.

Though the Indian statement did not give any figure of casualties on the Pakistani side, well-informed ministry officials said that four Pakistani soldiers were killed with one body found on the Indian side of the LoC.

The body of Sepoy Mahesh from the 22 Rajput Regiment, who was hit by a Pakistani bullet, was found from a ditch, defence sources said. The body will be flown back to his hometown Rewari in Haryana for cremation with military honours.

With the firing ceasing at 5 am, the two sides held a local flag meeting.

Giving details of the incident, ministry officials said that at 3.30 pm on Monday, a Pakistani patrol with a strength of 10 to 12 persons approached India's surveillance detachment about 300 metres on Indian side of the LoC.

Objecting to the detachment's location, the Pakistani patrol asked for a meeting with the Indian officer commanding it.

"During the interaction, one of the Pakistani soldiers, possibly on sighting an Indian patrol in the vicinity, opened fire which fatally injured the sentry at the post," officials said.

This led to opening of fire in retaliation by the Indian troops. Then the Pakistani post nearby opened "unprovoked" firing on the Indian post.

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