India Does Hard Talk, Warns Pak Of Consequences For Shelling

27 October 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: The BSF today did some hard talk with Pakistani Rangers during two hours long flag meeting between the Sector Commanders of two sides at Octroi post on the International Border (IB) in RS Pura sector and told the Rangers in categorical terms that they will not tolerate firing and shelling on the civilian areas and give very effective response if Pakistan initiates firing. 'There will be zero tolerance towards Pakistan's shelling and firing and armed infiltration attempts. We can't tolerate all this nonsense from Pakistan side anymore. We will not initiate firing but we will not allow Pakistan to target our posts and civilian areas. Pakistan will have to face strong consequences if they open firing,' Inspector General of BSF, Jammu Frontiers, Rakesh Sharma told the Excelsior after the completion of flag meeting. He said after strict warning to the Rangers, both sides have agreed to maintain peace and tranquility on the borders. 'The BSF has told the Rangers that they have violated the declaration signed between the Director Generals of two border guarding forces in New Delhi during four days talks from September 9 to 12. Any further violation of New Delhi declaration and today's commitment to peace on border by the Rangers would be strongly replied with,' the BSF Jammu chief warned. Sharma charged that under the cover of shelling and firing, Pakistani Rangers had also tried to push armed infiltrators into the Indian side between Samba and Hiranagar sector. 'The BSF observed movement of suspected militants in middle of the night on Sunday. Obviously, no farmers will move close to the borders during heavy exchange of shelling. They were the militants trying to intrude into the Indian territory and we have foiled their attempt,' the IG BSF said. Official sources said DG Rangers Umar Farooq Burki called in DG BSF DK Pathak yesterday and wanted the BSF to halt retaliatory shelling and firing as Pakistan had suffered six to seven casualties and huge damage on their side. Pathak reportedly told them to resolve the issue in the Sector Commander level talks as per September New Delhi declaration in which Pakistan had given written declaration to maintain peace and tranquility along the International Border. Pakistan late last night requested for the Sector Commander level meeting to which the BSF agreed. Indian side in the meeting was represented by DIG Sector Headquarters Jammu BS Kasana along with DIG Indreshwar Nagar RK Gurung and six other officers while Brigadier Wasim Jaffar Bhatti (Sector Commander Sialkot), five Wing Commanders and nine other officials attended the meeting from Pakistan side that last about two hours this afternoon at Octroi post on Pakistan side of RS Pura sector. 'The BSF strongly protested the killing of one civilian and injuries to several others due to unprovoked firing of the Rangers. The BSF conveyed to the Rangers in very strong words that any misadventure on the International Border and firing-shelling in the villages will not be tolerated at any cost,' sources said, adding, as usual the Rangers refuted allegations of opening firing and counter blamed the BSF for firing fiercely on Pakistani posts and villages. However, the meeting was held in cordial atmosphere. Both sides proposed and agreed that local level meetings between the two border guarding forces should be held more frequently, The Indian side also took up the issues of defence construction and infiltration attempts from Pakistan territory to which the Rangers gave assurance of cooperation for maintaining peace and tranquility on the borders. The BSF and Rangers decided that they will establish contact on hotline immediately in case either side had any problem on the borders. The IG BSF said the Indian delegation categorically told the Rangers that the BSF has adopted the policy of zero tolerance towards border shelling and firing and armed infiltration attempts. 'We stand for peace on the borders but, at the same time, we can't tolerate the Pakistani firing targeted at our civilian population. We will retaliate in self defence and protect our civilians, if we are fired upon,' he said, adding the BSF was determined to thwart the infiltration attempts on the borders. He said the BSF has foiled attempt by a group of militants to infiltrate into this side under the covering of shelling and firing. 'The Rangers have been briefed on the infiltration attempt,' he added. 'The BSF has the right to retaliate to protect civilians from shelling, firing and sniping incidents. We will not hesitate from retaliating very strongly in case of firing from the Pakistan side,' Rakesh Sharma said. He said the BSF has also handed over protest letter in writing to the Rangers and told them that they had not only violated the ceasefire agreement but also last month's commitment towards peace on the border. 'Pakistan has violated the undertaking and onus of escalated tension on the borders lied with them,' he added. Meanwhile, the BSF field commanders in forward areas of Samba, Hiranagar and Kathua sectors have briefed the civilian population that they can return to their houses as India and Pakistan have decided to maintain peace on the borders. Majority of the people, who had migrated from Samba and Hiranagar sectors, returned to their houses this evening while others will return tomorrow morning. One civilian was killed and over a dozen others were injured in Pakistan shelling and firing for past four days in Samba and Hiranagar sectors. Several cattle had also perished in the firing while many houses were damaged. There were reports that Pakistan has suffered six to seven casualties and huge destruction of property in retaliatory firing by the BSF. It was only after Pakistan suffered massive damage that the DG Rangers rang up the DG BSF and called for truce on the borders.