India lodges strong protest over ceasefire violations, brutal killing of two soldiers but Pakistan continues to remain in denial mode

The Brigade-level flag meeting between Indian and Pakistani authorities at Chakan Da Bagh near the Line of Control in Poonch on Monday afternoon ended without any breakthrough.

Official sources revealed to The Hindu that the meeting on the Zero Line between Commander of the 10th Brigade, Brig. T.S. Sandhu and his Pakistani counterpart, lasted just 15 minutes. The two were joined by over a dozen of the field commanders from the two sides.

Brig. Sandhu is understood to have conveyed India ’s deep outrage over the brutal killing of two soldiers of the 13 Rajputana Rifles regiment, allegedly by a joint Border Action Team of Pakistan’s 29 Baloch regiment commandos and militants of Lashkar-e-Taiba, near Chattri post in Mendhar area of Poonch on January 8, 2013.

Brig. Sandhu made it clear to the other side that India reserved the “right to retaliate” until there was publicly an apology besides returning of the severed head of Lance Naik Hemraj and the weapons looted from the two slain soldiers, the sources said. He also demanded an assurance that there would be no repeat of such an “unprecedented and unprofessional heinous act” and made it clear that the Indian Army would respond to such a violation of the November 2003 ceasefire with “appropriate and quick response”, they added.

It was not immediately clear as to what was the response from the other side.

Sources said that, contrary to expectations, there was no discussion on restoration of cross-LoC trade and travel that remains suspended since January 10. As many as 65 trucks loaded with perishables have been returned to Poonch and Rajouri and over a hundred passengers have been stranded on either side of the LoC in the Jammu-Poonch sector on the Indian side and the Hajeera-Rawalakote area across the border.

Cross-LoC travel is handled on Mondays and trade on the four following days at Chakan Da Bagh in Jammu and Salamabad, Uri, in Kashmir valley. However, the skirmishes since January 6, when a Pakistani soldier reportedly died in the Indian retaliation across Charonda village, trade and travel operation has not got disrupted on Srinagar-Uri-Muzaffarbad route.

Brig. Sandhu proceeded to the district headquarters without speaking to the media on his return from the Trade Facilitation Centre at Chakan Da Bagh. Unconfirmed reports said that he drove all the way to the Rajouri-based headquarters of the 25 Division where the Divisional Commander would hold a meeting with all brigade commanders of the Poonch-Rajouri belt.

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