New Delhi: The India-Pakistan tension after the killing of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops is showing signs of escalating. India claimed that Pakistan opened unprovoked firing in Poonch and Mendhar on Thursday. The exchange in Poonch lasted for almost 2 hours.
Pakistan said it lost one soldier in the exchange of fire, while claiming that the provocation took place from Indian side which was rejected by Army Headquarters in Delhi. The Pakistani troops' firing started in the Battal area in Poonch sector at 1630 hours after which Indian troops gave a measured response. The firing ceased at 1810 hours, Army headquarters said.
The firing took place in the area guarded by the 13 Rajputana Rifles, whose two soldiers Lance Naiks Sudhakar Singh and Hemraj were killed and their bodies were mutilated by Pakistani troops, it said. India also dismissed Pakistan's allegations that its Army transgressed the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri sector on Sunday.
In fact, Pakistan had carried out a ceasefire violation on the night of January 5-6 and "controlled retaliation" was carried out by the Indian Army on January 6, an Army press release said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan on Thursday shut the gates on an LoC trading post in Poonch sector, not allowing Indian trucks to unload. 25 trucks carrying goods, mostly vegetables, from India were not allowed to cross the LoC and enter Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir at Chakan-Da-Bagh, officials of the Trade Facilitation Center (TFC) at Poonch said. The Government of India says it was not notified about Pakistan's decision to close the LoC trading point.
Naem Anwar, Trade Minister, Pakistan High Commission, said, "Sometimes there is a heavy movement of trucks, so we stop them. There could be a host of issues maybe local issues. The recent incident has nothing to do with it. I would have known if there is."
The recent incidents will not, however, affect the India-Pakistan visa pact, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde announced on Thursday. He said the liberalised Indo-Pak visa agreement would be implemented.
India rejects Pak's demand for UN probe into soldier killings
Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday refuted Pakistan's claims that India had violated ceasefire norms and that Poonch firing was not an unprovoked incident. "The Indian forces are strictly in accordance with ceasefire norms," he told reporters. He further said that no third party would be allowed to intervene in the issue.
Pakistan had earlier called for UN probe into the incident. Chidambaram, however, said, "We do not believe in internationalising the issue or a UN inquiry. It has been outrightly rejected. The Pakistan commissioner was summoned and we registered our protest." Chidambaram said that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had taken a very serious view of the situation.
(With additional information from PTI)