In a stern warning against repeated ceasefire violations, the top Indian Army brass today told its counterparts in Pakistan that India reserves the right to retaliate "appropriately" to Pakistani firing along the Line of Control (LoC). The warning came during DGMO-level talks between the two sides as a nine-year-old girl and a soldier were killed in Jammu and Kashmir in heavy shelling by Pakistani forces. In a telephonic conversation, Lt Gen AK Bhatt, the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), also told Pakistani commander Maj Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza that the Indian Army was sincere about maintaining peace on the LoC.
During the talks, initiated at the behest of Pakistan, the DGMO made it explicitly clear that the Indian Army reserves the right to retaliate against any ceasefire violation, but "is sincere in its effort of maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LoC provided there was reciprocity", Army spokesman Lt. Col. Aman Anand said.
The telephone exchange took place three hours after the Pakistani army fired mortar shells along the LoC in the Poonch and Rajouri districts, killing an Indian Army jawan and a nine-year-old girl.
He said the conversation was initiated by Mirza, who raised the issues of the "targeting" of Pakistani army troops and the death of four Pakistani soldiers and one civilian in the Athmuqam Sector of PoK facing the Indian Keran Sector in Kupwara District last week, Anand said.
The nearly 10-minute-long conversation over the hotline between the two army commanders came amid rising incidents of ceasefire violations by the Pakistan army and a spurt in violence in Jammu and Kashmir.
"The Indian DGMO in response highlighted that all ceasefire violations were initiated by the Pakistan army and the Indian Army only responded appropriately to them," he said.
Firing by Indian troops was initiated only against "armed intruders attempting to infiltrate from close proximity of Pak posts along the Line of Control", he said.
The spokespersons said Bhatt also put across "emphatically" that the trend of infiltration along the LoC continued with the active support of Pakistani forward posts, impacting peace and tranquillity as well as the internal security situation.
"This was evident from continued attempts of sniping and targeting of our troops undertaken through cross border actions duly supported by Pakistani army troops," he said.
There were 23 incidents of ceasefire violations, one BAT (Border Action Team) attack and two infiltration bids by Pakistan in June, according to the Army.
(With PTI inputs)