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Indian Army Chief warns Pak

NEW DELHI, Jan 13: India has avenged the murders of its soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) by the Pakistani army last year by inflicting casualties on the neighbouring army, General Bikram Singh said on Monday. Warning Pakistan against border violations, he said India could not be expected to stick to rules if the neighbour was breaking them.

Quoting Pakistani news reports that 10 of their soldiers were killed and another 11 injured in recent clashes along the LoC, Singh said, “Our boys have done a stupendous job. They have retaliated well… and done their bit.”

He was responding to queries on the prevailing perception that the army was not taking action along the LoC where Pakistani troops had beheaded one Indian soldier and gunned down another in the Mendhar sector last January.

Barely seven months later, Pakistani intruders also killed five Indian soldiers in a border strike in Poonch sector.

He said the contention that army had not taken action was wrong. “A Geo TV (Pakistani news channel) report on December 23 talked of one Pakistani officer and nine of their jawans being killed. That happened due to firing by your soldiers,” he said at his customary press conference ahead of the Army Day on Wednesday.

The Pakistani channel had accused India of violating the November 2003 ceasefire 415 times last year — compared to 250 violations by Pakistan. Singh described the violations as a “mini war”.

The Indian Army hardened its stance along the border after the Poonch killings on August 6. Singh had then reprimanded his top commanders in J&K for not launching a massive retaliatory strike.

He had instructed local commanders to retaliate strongly after the January 8 beheading, but their response to the Poonch murders had disappointed Singh.

He said the army did not want to escalate border clashes into “the operational or strategic arena,” but would give a “befitting response” in any sector where Indian soldiers were fired on.

His comments come on the heels of top Indian and Pakistani generals heading the crucial military operations directorates holding talks for the first time in 14 years last December to ease border tensions.

He cautioned against diluting the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in J&K in view of the situation there and a possible (terrorist) spillover from Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US troops later this year.

 



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