Jammu/New Delhi: Indian and Pakistani troops were locked in shelling again yesterday as New Delhi rejected Islamabad’s call for a UN probe into the killing and beheading of two Indian soldiers.
Amid tensions on the Line of Control (LoC), Pakistani authorities stopped Indian trucks from Jammu and Kashmir from entering Pakistan while Indian political parties urged the government to act tough. The US said urged India and Pakistan to resolve their latest row through dialogue.
The Indian and Pakistani armies shelled each other’s positions in Jammu and Kashmir’s Mendhar sector in Poonch district. Pakistan said one of its soldiers, Hawaldar Mohyuddin, was killed in the unprovoked firing by Indian troops yesterday.
The Indian Army, informed sources said, only responded to Pakistani provocation. Pakistan said it “retaliated with full force”.
The army said an Indian post in Battal area in Poonch, about 230km north of Jammu, came under Pakistani shelling. The firing lasted an hour. Pakistan lodged a protest and sought a “flag meeting” with India.
Tensions have escalated along the winding LoC, which divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan, ever since Islamabad accused the Indian troops of breaching the border and killing one of its soldiers on Sunday.
Two days later, Pakistani soldiers sneaked into Jammu and Kashmir and retreated after killing and beheading two Indian soldiers near the LoC in Poonch, Indian officials said. The raiders took away one of the heads.
The brutal killings have evoked widespread anger with India, with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad yesterday urging the government to snap diplomatic as well as trade links with Pakistan.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Finance Minister P Chidambaram rejected a Pakistani demand to let the UN probe the border clashes. But he gave no sign of how the government would respond to the beheading. “We will not internationalise the issue nor go to the UN,” he said.
But in Islamabad, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar reiterated the demand for a third party enquiry into the violations on the LoC ceasefire that has largely held on since 2003.
National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon said ceasefire violations by Pakistan on the LoC had shot up last year.
The Indian military says that Pakistani forces resort to firing along the LoC to help infiltrate militants into Jammu and Kashmir.
Sushma Swaraj said her Bharatiya Janata Party would support the Congress-led government if it took “tough” decisions against Pakistan.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray asked India to “take revenge”. Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati also called for “strong action”.
Soldier-turned-activist Anna Hazare said India must “teach Pakistan a lesson” like in 1965- the war in which he took part.
Amid the tensions, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said there was no rethink on the liberalised visa agreement between India and Pakistan.
Pakistani officials added that they too had no rethink on the MFN status to be accorded to India.