New Delhi: The recent series of murderous clashes between India and Pakistan along the Line of Control actually began with a relatively innocuous incident. According to a newspaper report, it was when a grandmother had crossed into the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to be with her sons that the alarms rang at the Uri-headquartered 19 infantry brigade.
On September 11 this year, Reshma Bi, 70, left the village of Charonda, near Uri, to live the rest of her life with her sons and grandchildren across the Line of Control. According to The Hindu, the sons of Reshma had crossed into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir many years ago, to evade probe into their alleged role in cross-border trafficking. The couple - Reshma Bi and her husband Ibrahim Lohar - had remained in Charonda since then. But who knew that Reshma’s hope of living her last years with her family would lead to the worst-ever violation of the ceasefire that has mostly held since 2003 on the LoC that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Reshma’s September 11 flight highlighted vulnerabilities in defences along this stretch of the LoC. Charonda is located within metres of the Line of Control, outside of the three-layer counter-infiltration fencing which runs along the frontier, noted The Hindu.
The incident led to the construction of observation bunkers on the northern reaches of the LoC within a week after Reshma’s departure, which then sparked off a spiral of violence that culminated in the brutal killing of Lance-Naik Sudhakar Singh and Lance-Naik Hemraj in an ambush on Tuesday this week.
The observation bunkers constructed around Charonda by troops of the 9 Maratha Light Infantry sought to monitor the movement of villagers. Notably, the construction violated the terms of the LoC ceasefire which India and Pakistan agreed on in 2003. Pakistani troops protested against it. However, the Indian side refused to stop work, arguing that the posts faced out towards the village, posing no threat to Pakistan, said The Hindu. Tensions between the two sides began to rise early in October. Pakistan reportedly even made announcements over a public address system, demanding that Indian troops end the construction work. And the announcement followed shells. Pakistani troops, says the daily, fired mortar and high-calibre automatic weapons at Indian forward positions. The gunfire killed three villagers. Quoting military sources, the newspaper said that in the weeks leading up to the New Year, hardly a week went by without occasional shots being fired at troops headed to the new observation posts. On January 06, Pakistan claimed that Indian troops raided its post, the charge India has denied.
A Pakistani soldier reportedly died in the incident. Pakistan, sort of, retaliated by shooting dead and beheading two Indians soldiers in a gory replay of the 1999 Kargil killings.
The Indian Army said the head of one of the soldiers, Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh, was taken away by the intruders dressed in black who officials said could be from the 29 Baloch Regiment.