In a brazen violation of the ceasefire pact, Pakistani Rangers on Sunday fired at Indian troops along the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir's Akhnoor sector, killing two BSF jawans.
The firing from across the International Border (IB) in the Pragwal area of Akhnoor sector started in the wee hours, resulting in critical injuries to two BSF personnel manning a forward post, a senior officer of the border guarding force told PTI. He said both the personnel, including an Assistant Sub-Inspector, later succumbed to injuries at a hospital while undergoing treatment.
At least 13 civilians have been injured in the firing. "We are fully prepared to face any situation. Thirteen civilians are injured but their morale is high, we have made full arrangements to vacate people from vulnerable areas," IGP Jammu SD Singh told media.
The firing from across the border in violation of the ceasefire agreement prompted a strong and effective retaliation by the BSF, the officer said.
Cross-border firing was going on when last reports came in, he added.
"Pakistan violated ceasefire along IB in J&K after agreeing to implement the 2003 pact in 'letter and spirit'," a senior BSF official told PTI, while confirming the casualties.
In retaliation, Indian troops have reportedly incurred heavy damage across the border. According to sources, eight to ten Pak Ranger bunkers have been damaged. A large number of ambulances have been spotted on the other side, sources added.
Condemning the ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti termed the cross-border firing 'unfortunate' and called for an end to the 'bloodshed'.
"It's unfortunate that this has happened even after Directors-General of Military Operations (DGMOs) held dialogue. People on both sides of the border are dying. The DGMOs should hold dialogue again. This bloodshed must be brought to an end," CM Mufti told media on Sunday.
The incident comes only days after Pakistan initiated a hotline conversation between DGMO of the two armies.
During the conversation, the Indian and Pakistani DGMO agreed to fully implement ceasefire at the border in accordance with the understanding of 2003.
"Both the DGMOs agreed to fully implement the Ceasefire Understanding of 2003 in letter and spirit forthwith and to ensure that henceforth the Ceasefire will not be violated by both sides," Pak and Indian Army had said in a joint statement last Tuesday.
It was also mutually agreed that in case of any issue, restraint will be exercised and the matter will be resolved through utilisation of existing mechanisms of Hotline Contacts and Border Flag Meetings at Local Commanders’ Level.
It is not the first time Pakistan has gone back on its word recently. On May 20, the Pakistan Rangers "pleaded" with BSF to stop firing along the IB, after being pounded with heavy artillery that left a Pakistani trooper dead. Only to initiate ceasefire violation hours later on the same night.
The intense shelling from Pakistan between May 15 and May 23 had forced thousands of people residing along the IB in Jammu, Kathua and Samba districts to flee their homes. At least 12 people were killed, including two BSF jawans and an infant, and scores of others were injured.
(With inputs from PTI)