Indo-Pak Brig Comdr Level flag meet today at LoC

* Both sides to discuss heavy firing in KG

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, June 22: Nearly 10 days after Pakistan army started heavy firing in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district and violated ceasefire a number of times killing an Army jawan and injuring five others, Pakistan troops have agreed to hold a ‘Brigade Commander’ level flag meeting at Chakan-Da-Bagh zero line tomorrow morning.
Pakistan had earlier refused to hold Commander level flag meeting to discuss the issue of firing and gave no response to call for a Brigade Commander level meeting on June 20.
A senior Army official today said: “we have received a reply from Pakistan on hotline on the issue of flag meeting to discuss issue of heavy firing in Krishna Ghati sector. The flag meeting will be held at 11 am at Chakan-Da-Bagh zero line dividing India and Pakistan’’.
He added: “definitely we will be discussing the issue of heavy firing by Pakistan army and frequent ceasefire violations from their side. Our one Army jawan has been killed in the firing and five others were injured. This is a serious issue’’.
Admitting that Brigade Commander level flag meeting is held under “extra ordinary circumstances’’, sources said an “extra ordinary situation’’ has been created by Pakistan, which continued unprovoked firing using heavy fire arms like UBGL, heavy machine guns, mortar, rockets and other automatic weapons to target forward Indian positions in Krishna Ghati sector.
Besides indulging in ceasefire violations, Pakistan army had also refused to open gates at Chakan-Da-Bagh since last Thursday leading to suspension of cross-LoC trade and weekly bus, which plies every Monday, on Poonch-Rawlakote route.
Army had sent a hotline message to Pakistan army and called for a Brigade Commander-level flag meeting to discuss the issues of increasing incidents of firing and ceasefire violations in Poonch sector on June 19.
The issue was serious in view of the fact that an Army jawan has been killed and four others injured in direct firing on them by Pakistan troops, unseen in the past especially after ceasefire came into force between two sides in November 2002, sources said.
An Army jawan was killed and five others injured in the firing by Pakistan troops in five major ceasefire violations since June 12 to June 19 along the LoC in Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district.
“Usually, a Commandant-level flag meeting is held on the LoC to sort out the differences, but this time we have called for Brigade Commander-level meeting’’, sources said.
Earlier, Pakistan had cancelled Commandant level meeting on Chakan-Da-Bagh crossing point in Poonch on June 16 without assigning any reason.
Pakistani troops this time directly fired on Army troops guarding the borderline in Poonch unlike in the past when they used to target posts, sources said adding “it was a serious issue’’.
Pakistani troops resorted to five major ceasefire violations and heavy firing incidents since June 12 to 19 and no firing was reported since then.
Pakistan army had been claiming that they have suffered heavy casualties in firing by Indian Army. Sources here said Indian Army had given controlled but effective response to silence Pakistani guns and ensure that the militants didn’t manage to take advantage of Pak firing to enter Indian side.
This was for the first time since start of cross-LoC bus service (Rah-e-Milan) between two parts of divided State (Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan occupied Kashmir) that the bus service, which plies every Monday taking civilians from one part of the State to other, had to be suspended as Pakistan refused to open gates at Chakan-Da-Bagh.
Similarly, cross-LoC trade on Poonch-Rawlakote route, which was suspended last Thursday, couldn’t take place during all four days of this week (Tuesday to Friday) due to closure of gates by Pakistan authorities.
Cross-LoC Traders Association president, Pawan Anand said the PoK traders were not even responding to their phone calls.
“The traders were frightened. Obviously, they have been asked by Pakistan authorities not to take calls of the traders from Jammu or Poonch’’, sources said, adding resumption of trade next week depended on tomorrow’s flag meeting.
Meanwhile, a heavy forest fire has erupted several kilometers along the LoC in Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch district has triggered mine explosions in the area and damaged some communication lines.
“Stray mines have exploded due to forest firing in Krishna Ghati sector but there is no cause of alarm. No civil habitation or fencing has been affected due to firing. The bunkers and pickets of the Army were intact. There has been some normal damage to signal and telephone cables but that was repaired immediately’’, sources said.
The fire erupted from PoK’s forward village of Dara Sheirkhan and spread to the Indian side of LoC in Deri Dakhi belt of Mendhar sector last evening, sources said.
The fire spread 3 to 4 kms along the LoC up to Lower Krishna Ghati belt triggering several mine explosions planted by security troops as part of anti-infiltration measures, they said.
There has been no loss of life or injury to anyone in the fire.
There was no damage caused to any forward post along the LoC in fire. However, there have been mine field explosions and some damage to communication cables along the LoC and these are being repaired, sources said.
Troops, forest officials and locals extinguished the fire this morning to ensure that it didn’t spread to civilian habitation or security pickets.
In another such incident, a forest fire has erupted in Bandi Abbaspura in PoK on the other side of the LoC in Poonch this morning, sources said, adding that the blaze is fast spreading towards the Indian side of the border to Khadi Karmara belt in Poonch sector.

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