New Delhi, July 29 : Defence Minister AK Antony today reacted strongly to the attempt by the Pakistan Army to cross the Line of Control (LoC) and attack an observation post which resulted in intermittent firing between the two sides.
Antony said that the Government is fully prepared to deal with any such infiltrations firmly, and maintained that adequate restraint would be taken to prevent escalation of tension.
He further said that keeping in view the increased attempts of infiltration; the counter infiltration grid has been suitably strengthened by the Army to check such incidents.
"The increase in the ceasefire violations - firing across the Line of Control (LoC) has been a matter of concern and is being constantly reviewed by the Government from time to time," Antony said.
"A total of 19 incidents have occurred since January 2008 and a large number of incidents have occurred in the months of June and July. These are unusual months when maximum attempts of infiltration are made by terrorists," he added.
The Defence Minister said the Government has urged through the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) that Pakistan must fully respect the ceasefire agreed between the two sides and adhere to the already existing mechanism to deal with violations through local flag meetings and DGMO level talks in order to resolve an issue.
Pakistani soldiers in the Kiyan Bowl area of the Nowgam sector of Kupwara district in northwest Kashmir crossed 300 metres inside Indian territory around 3.30 p.m. on Monday and objected to the location of an observation post. They asked for a meeting with the commanding officer, a senior Defence Ministry official said.
"During the interaction, one of the Pakistani soldiers, possibly sighting an Indian patrol in the vicinity, opened fire, fatally injuring the sentry at the post and this led to opening of fire in retaliation," the official said.
The official further pointed out that the Pakistani post in the vicinity thereafter opened unprovoked firing on the Indian post in the area, and said that intermittent firing between the posts continued till early this morning.
The matter was taken up at a local flag meeting. The DGMO's of the two countries also spoke over the hotline today, he added.
In the exchange of fire along the LoC, a soldier from Rajputana Regiment was killed. Four Pakistani troops were also reportedly killed in the retaliatory fire by the Indian forces.
The firing violated the November 26, 2003 ceasefire accord, according to which the Indian and Pakistani armies mutually agreed to end the exchange of fire along the LoC, which had become a regular feature since the Kargil hostilities ended.
Since January 2005, the ceasefire has been violated 16 times. y Praful Kumar Singh