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India asks Pakistan to respect ceasefire agreement

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, July 29, IRNA


With as many as 19 violations of the Line of Control (LoC) recorded since January this year, India has 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 in New Delhi on Tuesday, 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."

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 (DGMO)-level talks.

According to PTI, the minister's strong statement came as India and Pakistan held battalion-level flag meeting at the intrusion site on Tuesday.

New Delhi 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.

Meanwhile, Indian and Pakistani troops on Tuesday halted a 16-hour exchange of fire along the Line of Control (LoC) leading to recovery of the body of a soldier from Rajput Regiment even as the two sides held a flag meeting in a bid to ease the tension.

Four Pakistani soldiers were also reportedly killed in the retaliatory fire by Indian forces.

With the firing, which violated the November 2003 ceasefire accord, stopping on Tuesday morning, local commanders of Indian and Pakistani armies held a 30-minute flag meeting in Teetwal sector.

The Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries had spoken on the hotline on Monday to usher in calm along the LoC.

Pakistani troops had crossed the LoC on Monday afternoon and asked the Indian troops to vacate an observation post at Khayan area of Nowgam sector.

This led to a war of words between the two sides and a Pakistani trooper fired at the Indian observation post indiscriminately leading to the death of the Indian soldier who belonged to 22 Rajput Regiment.

Faced with the hail of bullets from the Pakistani troops, Indian forces retaliated the fire.

The exchange continued throughout the night. On the casualties on the Pakistani side, the spokesman said, "We have not seen them (the bodies)."

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