JAMMU/NEW DELHI, Aug 19: The Border Security Force (BSF) today said repeated ceasefire violations across the border in Jammu and Kashmir are being done at the behest of Pakistan to facilitate infiltration of “undesirable” elements into the Indian territory. The BSF said they have repeatedly called for peace but Pakistan didn’t seem to be interests as they continued to target the civilian areas directly in Arnia and RS Pura sectors of Jammu region.
Meanwhile, official sources said the BSF officials in Jammu established hotline contact with the Rangers yesterday and asked them to stop unprovoked and indiscriminate firing on the civilian areas but regretted that there was no positive response from the other side. The BSF called for a flag meeting with the Rangers to end hostilities on the border.
After meeting between BSF and Rangers at Octroi Post in Suchetgarh sector in which a BSF jawan, who had accidentally crossed over to other side of the International Border from river Chenab was repatriated, there had been no flag meeting between the two sides. The Rangers had heavily shelled forward posts of BSF and civilian areas in Arnia and RS Pura sectors though the International Border was calm since 6 am yesterday.
Sources admitted that the hotline contact has failed to break the deadlock between the BSF and Rangers over convening the flag meeting to end firing and shelling.
“One of the reasons or ploy on their (Pakistan’s) part is for doing infiltration because on many occasions we have noticed movement of some undesirable elements across the borders. We feel that this is one of the reasons why they are doing the cross-border firing,” BSF Director General D K Pathak told reporters in New Delhi.
Pathak, who has visited the border areas in the last few days, said in the last over one month period there have been about 8-9 ceasefire violations and unprovoked firings from the other side.
“No doubt that Pakistan is behind all this. They are encouraging this because infiltration is from their side only. If Pakistan is not helping then there is no possibility of infiltration from their side to our side,” the BSF chief said.
Pathak, who has taken over the reins of the country’s largest border guarding force in April, said the “first fire” always comes from the other side and once it is launched, Indian troops begin wreaking havoc on Pakistani positions.
“In the last one month there have been repeated attempts of cross border firing and there is always a first fire from their side. Let me tell you, whenever there is fire from their side we retaliate much more than what they are doing to us. I think the damage caused on the other side is much more than what is done on our side,” the DG said.
He said these incidents, which have been happening quite often, in the last few days is not a new development.
“There is nothing new of cross border firing on the international border. Last year also, almost about a month and almost every day, this sort of incidents were taking place and this year also in last over one month about 8-9 incidents have taken place,” he said.
The DG said as snow melts in the summer season and border passes get cleared, the crossing of the border becomes easier.
“Every year during this season there are repeated attempts on the part of different militant groups to cross over to India. So, this is one of those kinds that is happening now,” he said.
He said the instructions to his men is to give a ‘muh-tod jawaab’ or a befitting reply to the other side.
“The instructions for our men are (to launch) equal or more fire. We just can’t do less fire…It is equal or more fire. We will give them muh-tod jawaab,” Pathak said.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters at Indreshwar Nagar headquarters of the BSF in RS Pura, IG BSF Jammu Frontiers, Rakesh Sharma told reporters that Pakistan has been directly targeting the civilian areas on the International Border, creating fear and panic among the civilians.
“Though we are retaliating Pakistan firing effectively, we have refrained from hitting the civilian population on the other side,’’ Sharma said, adding that firing and shelling on civilian areas causing loss of property and casualties of civilians and cattle is not good.
The IG BSF said Pakistan has been using all sorts of weapons from small to medium and heavy guns and mortars to target the BSF forward posts and civilian areas.
“It seems that Pakistan is trying to take advantage of the firing. They want to push militants under the cover of firing and shelling into this side. However, we will foil their plan and not allow the militants to infiltrate into this side,’’ Sharma said, adding that BSF jawans were maintaining high alert on the borders.
H e said the BSF on the one side was tackling the firing and shelling by the Rangers and on the other the jawans were maintaining strict surveillance to ensure that the militants didn’t sneak into this side under the cover of firing.
Replying to a question on damage caused to border fencing due to recent floods, the BSF IG said: “our engineering wing repairs the fencing immediately whenever and wherever it was damaged. However, in the areas where it was not easy to repair the fencing immediately, the BSF steps up area domination to prevent infiltration by the militants’’.
Sharma said Pakistan has repeatedly violated ceasefire on the International Border and the BSF has given effective reply all the times.
Earlier in Srinagar, Inspector General of BSF (Kashmir Frontier) P S Sandhu told reporters on the sidelines of a function that militants in training camps in PoK were getting desperate to infiltrate into Kashmir before the onset of winter in the Valley.
“It (firing along the LoC) is a desperate attempt to help inimical elements, the militants, to cross across (to this side of LoC),” he said.
“There has been perceptible change in weather and few of our forward defence lines have also reported snowfall. Desperation levels are increasing, training camps in PoK are full, efforts will be increased (to infiltrate) and they will face failure. We will face them with determination and maintain vigil along the LoC,” Sandhu said.
The BSF official said there have been violations of the ceasefire along LoC, which are being retaliated adequately.
“We received heavy machine gun fire from across which was more than adequately retaliated by the BSF and other agencies. Where ever there is firing at night, there is an encounter in the morning as the militants get trapped or there are blood stains and foot marks leading back across the LoC,” he said.
Sandhu said BSF all along the LoC in Kashmir frontier is fully geared to take on any attempts of infiltration.
Referring to two attacks on BSF personnel in Pulwama district of south Kashmir during last week, Sandhu said, “We are not involved in counter insurgency operations in Kashmir. But we have taken all the precautionary measures which we have to take.”
“The boys have been told not to retaliate in heavily built up areas to avoid collateral damage. BSF is committed to protect lives of people of Kashmir and if they have to shed their blood for it, they are more than willing to do it,” he added.
Two BSF personnel were killed and four other injured in a militant attack on Saturday at Qoil in while eight personnel were injured in another attack at Pampore.