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LoC tension: Flag meeting ends; India protests soldiers’ beheading

The Indian and Pakistani armies held a flag meeting on Monday, after Pakistani troops opened fresh fire at Indian border posts in Jammu and Kashmir.

Zeenews Bureau

Jammu: The Indian and Pakistani armies held a flag meeting on Monday, where India lodged a strong protest against the beheading of the two soldiers.

According to reports, India asked Pakistan to respect the Line of Control (LoC) ceasefire during the meet.

According to Army sources, the flag meeting at Chakan da Bagh started at 1 pm and lasted for an hour. "The Indian side lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over its soldiers intruding into Indian side and brutally killing two of its soldiers in Sona Gali area of Mendhar sector on January 08 and repeated violations of ceasefire by Pakistan on the LoC," a source said.

The Indian delegation at the flag meeting was led by the 10 `Krishnaghati` Brigade commander Brigadier TS Sandhu. The meeting took place at Chakan da Bagh on the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir`s Poonch district.

Ten ceasefire violations by Pakistan have taken place this year; in 2012, the number was 117 and 61 in 2011. The firing by Pakistan across the LoC, which divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan, is mainly to provide cover to infiltrating militants, it is believed.

The sources said the Indian Army also demanded the severed head of one of the beheaded soldiers` which was taken by the raiding Pakistani soldiers. The Indian side also underlined the need for restoring confidence building measures (CBMs) across the LoC. Pakistan`s response was not yet known.

Earlier in the day, Army Chief General Bikram Singh turned up the heat on Pakistan, saying the Islamic country is still sending terrorists to India.

India had been seeking a brigadier-level meeting to discuss escalating tensions on the LoC but Pakistan, which had called for a UN probe into the incidents, responded only on Sunday.

On Sunday night, Pakistani troops opened fresh fire at Indian border posts in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

The latest firing in Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch began overnight at 10 and continued an hour past midnight Saturday, an official told a news agency.
The military said the Pakistani firing was a violation of the ceasefire effective on the LoC since 2003, and the Indian Army offered a "calibrated response to silence Pakistani guns".

"Pakistani troops used medium and heavy machine gun fire. There was no loss of life or injury on the Indian side," a source said.

Cross-LoC trade, taking place four days a week from Tuesday to Friday, has halted since Wednesday as Pakistan did not open the LoC gates. The cross-LoC bus carrying passengers to and fro Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan administered Kashmir once a week on Mondays also did not ply on Monday.

The cross-LoC bus and trade takes place from Chakan da Bagh in Poonch district of Jammu region and from Salamabad in Kashmir Valley.

The ceasefire agreement of November 2003, which is considered the main CBM between India and Pakistan regarding Jammu and Kashmir, led to two other major CBMs -- cross-LoC bus in 2005 for meeting of divided families living on either side and cross-LoC trade between two sides in 2008.
An official in the Poonch administration told a news agency that the visas of more than 30 Pakistanis who have come to Jammu and Kashmir to meet their relatives would expire on Monday.

"We will have to work on getting their visa extended," he said.

(With IANS inputs)