Pakistan has agreed for a flag meeting in Poonch area of Jammu region along the Line of Control (LoC) on Monday. This follows a week of tension between the two nations owing to skirmishes on the Mendhar sector that left four soldiers dead.
There was an exchange of fire on Sunday evening and Saturday night between troops of both sides in Krishna Ghati area. Senior Army officials confirmed that a Brigadier-level flag meeting would be held at the Chakan Da Bagh point at 1 p.m. India mooted a flag meeting on Friday.
Though Pakistan had violated the 2003 ceasefire agreement several occasions over the past few years, tension escalated this time after the killing of a Pakistani soldier in Haji Pir area during intermittent firing. India denied having committed any violation of the ceasefire and asserted that none of its Army personnel had crossed the LoC to go into the other side of the border. Two days later, Pakistani troops, taking benefit of the dense forest cover and thick fog, sneaked into the Indian side and, in an exchange of fire, killed two Indian soldiers. The Indian Army said the Pakistani troops mutilated the bodies of the two soldiers, beheaded one of them and took away the severed head.
Islamabad had alleged that the Indian troops violated the ceasefire on January 6 and called for an enquiry by the U.N. Military Observers Group from India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) into the matter. But New Delhi turned down the charge, stressing that all outstanding issues could be resolved under the 1972 Shimla Agreement.
Fresh exchange of gunfire in Krishna Ghati
Fresh exchange of gunfire was reported from Krishna Ghati area at 6.30 p.m on Sunday. SSP Poonch said firing was on at two to three points on the LoC.
Raghbir Singh, retired schoolteacher who lives between Mankote and Chhajla, just 1.5 km from the LoC, told The Hindu over the phone that most of the residents did not sleep on Friday and Saturday nights due to heavy exchange of gunfire.
Two Indian soldiers were ambushed and killed, allegedly by Pakistani commandos of 29-Baloch regiment near Chhatri post, just two nautical miles from Mr. Singh’s residence on January 8.
“There’s tremendous fear here. Tracer firing continued till late last night. People here say that the Pakistani Army has got several villages vacated of the civilian population across the LoC and skirmishes could intensify any moment,” Mr. Singh said.
According to him, exchange of gunfire and casualties had happened – more in pre-2003 ceasefire days and less thereafter – but this kind of fear was there for the first time in the last two decades.
Defence sources described it as “controlled skirmishes.” They maintained that there was no serious threat to peace for now. They said that troops of 93-Infantry Brigade and 10 Brigade were on high alert all through the LoC from Hajipir to Mendhar.