Recent incidents localised, LoC ceasefire stands: Army chief

FP

The Army chief said that the 13 Rajputana Rifles targeted by the cross-border raid had foiled an infiltration bid on Saturday night in which several people were observed while trying to cross over. He also said the Army believes three people who were trying to cross over died in the firing by the Indian Army and firing continues in the area as Pakistani troops are trying to retrieve the bodies.

Singh, however, distanced himself from the statement of Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne who said Saturday that India would look at other options if the violations continued. "I suppose what he perhaps meant was in the domain of diplomatic and economic options. As far as military options are concerned, it is an operation which will be dealt with by the Army at the tactical level," Singh said.

The general said the Army's assessment is that the beheading of the soldier and subsequent developments was pre-planned by Pakistan. Terming efforts to link the beheading with the killing of a Pakistani soldier two days earlier as a conspiracy, Singh said any retaliation by Pakistan would take at least 7-10 days of planning. In this case, however, the purported "retaliation" took place after just two days.

Top government sources said the latest tensions could also be linked to the fact that Kashmir has been at its most peaceful state in years. Violence has dropped drastically in the Valley with a record low of only 72 militants being killed in 2012 against 100 in 2011 and 232 in 2010. This clearly indicated infiltration has hit a big low, the sources said. Besides, security forces in the state have also managed to keep their own casualties minimal, with only 15 personnel killed in 2012 against 33 in 2011 and 69 in 2010.

While the Army chief was speaking at his annual media interaction on the eve of Army Day, his remarks came hours before local commanders of India and Pakistan held their first meeting after the recent violence on the LoC. At the meeting, India demanded that the decapitated head of Lance Naik Hemraj be returned. Pakistan, on the other hand, protested against the alleged killing of its soldiers by the Indian Army.

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