Kashmir Valley calm so far, gun duel on LoC (Lead)
By Ayaskant Das
New Delhi, Aug 7 (IANS) There are no reports of violence in the Valley ever since the withdrawal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation but the ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) since the decision, according to a security assessment.
Late on Wednesday evening, Pakistan violated the ceasefire, firing small arms and mortar shells from across the LoC in Sunderbani sector in Rajouri district. The firing began around 10.15 p.m., following which the Indian Army retaliated.
Prior to this, a cease-fire violation was reported on the night of August 5 from the Machil sector of J&K's Kupwara district when an infiltration bid by five to six armed militants was foiled and a soldier was also injured. On the other hand, the number of cease-fire violations at the LoC had peaked in the month of July.
The spurt in firing in July coincided with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington. The month saw 272 ceasefire violations, the highest in 2019.
According to defence officials, the hinterland of J&K has witnessed no major incident of violence over the past three days while the LoC too has remained mostly calm, apart from these two incidents.
"There are no directions as of now for deployment of additional forces in the Valley. Situation across the Valley has been peaceful over the past three days with no violence reported from the hinterland or cease-fire violations at the border," a senior army official said.
On the intervening night of July 31 and August 1, at least five to seven special services personnel of Pakistan's Border Action Team (BAT) were gunned down by alert troops in the Keran sector of Kupwara during an infiltration bid.
"Four bodies were sighted on the Indian side of the border. Pakistan was informed about it. However, they are yet to claim the dead bodies which are still lying near a forward post of the sector," added the official.
The Indian armed forces suffered six casualties during cease-fire violations by Pakistan between January and August 7. The second highest number of cease-fire violations in the year was recorded in March when both countries were in a conflict over the Pulawama incident and the subsequent air strikes carried out by the IAF in Balakot.
There were 267 cease-fire violations in March while the two preceding months of the year had recorded 203 and 215 incidents, respectively. The corresponding figures for the months of April, May and June, respectively, stand at 234, 221 and 181.
(Ayaskant Das can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)