Four Border Security Force personnel, including an assistant commandant-rank officer, were killed and three others were injured as Pakistan Rangers opened fire along the International Border in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir in 'betrayal' of a truce announced recently, officials said on Wednesday.
The 'unprovoked' firing in Ramgarh sector, which began on Tuesday night, came days after the two border guarding forces, at a sector commander-level meeting on June 4, agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity along the IB.
"Since the ceasefire was on...the time we use to strengthen our defences.
A team was going with defence material, Pakistan violated the ceasefire and fire at them with flat trajectory weapon followed by mortar firing. That is how the causality has taken place," Additional Director General (ADG) of BSF, Western Command, K N Chaubey, told reporters in Jammu.
Another team of the BSF led by Assistant Commandant Jitender Singh rushed to evacuate them and a mortar fired from Pakistan's Asraf Post exploded close to them at Chamliyal Border Out Post, resulting in fatal causalities, he said.
The BSF ADG said that it was very unfortunate and 'the ceasefire announcement made and agreed is to be honoured'.
"We have honoured it and Pakistan has not honoured it. And what Pakistan does is Pakistan's business and how we respond to betrayal is our job," he said.
Assistant Commandant Jitender Singh, SI Rajneesh, ASI Ramniwas and Constable Hansraj were killed in the Pakistani firing.
Eleven BSF troops have been killed in cross-border firing incidents along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir till date in 2018, the highest casualty figure for the border force in a year in the past five years, the latest data revealed.
BSF personnel paid tributes to their four colleagues at a wreath laying ceremony organised at the force's frontier headquarters at Paloura in Jammu.
BSF personnel also raised anti-Pakistan slogans while paying tributes to their slain colleagues.
This is probably the first time that Indian troops have shouted slogans denouncing Pakistan at a wreath-laying ceremony.
Asked whether the BSF would lodge a protest with Pakistan, the BSF ADG said, "Of course, it would." He asserted that it was premature to say if Pakistan Army's special operation team BAT was involved in the attack.
In a statement, the BSF said, 'Around 2140 hours Pak Rangers Post Asraf started unprovoked firing on BOP Chamliyal with flat and high trajectory weapons. Retaliating this unprovoked fire, Jitender Singh, Assistant Commandant, SI Rajneesh, ASI Ramniwas, Constable Hansraj attained martyrdom. Three other bordermen received severe injuries. Injured BSF personnel have been evacuated to hospital.'
The firing continued till 4.30 am.
In a tweet, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) S P Vaid expressed condolences.
'In Ramgarh Jammu sector of IB, 4 BSF personnel were martyred including one Asstt Commandant & 5 injured due to firing from across. Our heart goes to those who lost their dear ones,' he said.
This is the second major ceasefire violation along the IB this month and came despite the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries agreeing on May 29 to implement the ceasefire pact of 2003 in 'letter and spirit'.
On June 3, two BSF personnel, including an Assistant Sub-Inspector, were killed and 10 people, mostly civilians, injured in heavy shelling and firing by Pakistan Rangers along the IB in Pragwal, Kanachak and Khour sectors.
The June 3 incident prompted the sector commander-level meeting on June 4, when the Pakistani side gave an assurance that they would not initiate any cross-border firing and the BSF reciprocated by saying that it would only retaliate when provoked.
The latest casualties take the number of those killed in incidents of ceasefire violation by Pakistan along the IB and the Line of Control (LoC) this year to 51, including 25 security personnel.
There has been over 1,200 incidents of ceasefire violation.
Last month, thousands of people residing along the IB in Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts had to flee their homes following intense shelling from Pakistan between May 15 and May 23, which left 12 people dead and scores injured.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed deep anguish and grief over the deaths of the four BSF personnel, and reiterated her demand for cessation of hostilities along the borders to protect lives and properties of border people.
The Jammu and Kashmir units of the BJP and the Congress condemned the killings.
"Pakistan is a country of traitors and the treacherous. It once again stabbed us in the back under the cover of darkness," Bharatiya Janata Party state president Ravinder Raina said, warning the 'enemy' of stern action.
Pakistan's repeated treacherous acts during the holy month of Ramzan showed that it was taking advantage of the lack of a clear policy of the Narendra Modi-led government to deal with it effectively and in an appropriate manner, state Congress chief G A Mir said.