New Delhi: India on Monday said it reserved the right to respond "appropriately" to Pakistani firing along the Line of Control (LoC) after a five-year-old girl and a soldier were killed in Jammu and Kashmir in heavy shelling by Pakistani forces.
The latest in a series of Pakistani border aggression came even as two senior military commanders of the two countries held talks over repeated exchanges of fire along the LoC.
Mincing no words, the Indian Army's top brass clearly told its Pakistani counterpart that India was sincere about maintaining peace on the LoC.
In a telephonic conversation, Lt Gen AK Bhatt, the director general of military operations (DGMO), told his Pakistani counterpart that the Indian Army reserves the right to retaliate against any ceasefire violation, but "is sincere in its effort of maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LoC provided there was reciprocity".
The telephone exchange took place three hours after the Pakistani Army fired mortar shells along the LoC in the Poonch and Rajouri districts, killing an Indian Army jawan and a nine-year-old girl. The deceased girl, who was hit by a Pakistani shell, was identified as Saida of Balakote in Poonch district. The soldier was killed in Rajouri district's Tarkundi area.
The DGMOs usually speak on Tuesdays but Monday's was an unscheduled conversation on Pakistan's request.
Army spokesman Lt Col Aman Anand said the conversation was initiated by the Pakistani commander, Maj Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza, who raised the issues of the "targeting" of Pakistani Army troops and the death of four Pakistani soldiers and one civilian in the Athmuqam Sector of PoK facing the Indian Keran Sector in Kupwara District last week.
The nearly 10-minute-long conversation over the hotline between the two Army commanders came amid rising incidents of ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army and a spurt in violence in Jammu and Kashmir.
"The Indian DGMO in response highlighted that all ceasefire violations were initiated by the Pakistan Army and the Indian Army only responded appropriately to them," he said.
Firing by Indian troops was initiated only against "armed intruders attempting to infiltrate from the close proximity of Pak posts along the Line of Control", he said.
The spokespersons said Bhatt also put across "emphatically" that the trend of infiltration along the LoC continued with the active support of Pakistani forward posts, impacting peace and tranquillity as well as the internal security situation.
"This was evident from continued attempts of sniping and targeting of our troops undertaken through cross border actions duly supported by Pakistani Army troops," he said.
There were 23 incidents of ceasefire violations, one BAT (Border Action Team) attack and two infiltration bids by Pakistan in June, according to the Army.
(With Agency inputs)