Union Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said "attacks and counter-attacks" took place during Operation Parakram, when India massed its troops along the border with Pakistan following the terrorist attack on Parliament in 2001.
Asked why a large number of Indian soldiers lost their lives during the peace-time operation, he said, "It is not that they died without fighting. Declared war was not there but there were attacks and counter-attacks and that is the reality."
Mukherjee was speaking to reporters after laying the foundation stone of an accomodation project for armymen at Shankar Vihar in Southwest Delhi.
However, he refused to comment on the decision of the previous National Democratic Alliance government to send troops to the border or compare Operation Parakram with the Kargil conflict. "Let us not make a comparative analysis on the deaths of our soldiers... every death is painful."
Mukherjee also said that attempts by militants to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir had increased following the melting of snow on the high reaches.
"I would not say that militant activities have increased in the sense that there are larger infiltrations. There are possibilities but we are preventing infiltration and exfiltration to a considerable extent.
"But the attempts have increased and as the attempts to infiltrate have increased therefore the casualties are more," he said.