Recent incidents localised, LoC ceasefire stands: Army chief

FP

Army chief Gen Bikram Singh Monday made it clear the ceasefire with Pakistan on the Line of Control (LoC) still holds despite the increase in violations, which he said were incidents "localised" to certain areas where infiltration routes frequently used by terrorists are located.

Singh, however, emphasised that the beheading of an Indian soldier by Pakistani troops was "unpardonable" and in the Army's assessment it was a "stage-managed and pre-planned attack". He described the manner of killing as "gruesome" and against the "very ethos of soldiering".

His comments came ahead of a brigadier-level flag-meeting of the two armies at which the two sides traded charges and accused each other of violating the ceasefire. The meeting at Chakan Da Bagh had been mooted by India to reduce tensions that flared after the January 8 killing of the two Indian soldiers.

Asked whether the ceasefire, the most important India-Pakistan confidence building measure, still held considering there was one violation every three days on an average last year, Singh said: "The ceasefire has been in place since 2003. There have been aberrations taking place at the local level. It was once in every six days in 2011 and was once in three days in 2012. It is not that the entire LoC is activated. It is essentially at places that have traditionally been infiltration routes — the Uri and Mendhar sectors. These are due to local dynamics. The ceasefire is largely holding out with aberrations at local levels."

Asked why the Pakistani army chose to up the ante by beheading an Indian soldier, the general said it may be a reflection of the frustration over not being able to push militants into India through the route.

At the same, Singh underlined that India "reserves its right to retaliate at the time and place of its choice". Choosing his words carefully, he added: "I expect all my commanders to be aggressive and offensive to any provocation. We shall not be passive to fire but the response will always be measured and to effect. We will maintain moral ascendancy."

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