New Delhi, July 16 (IANS) India on Thursday asserted its forces have retaliated to repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan and cautioned of “effective and forceful response” to unprovoked firing in Jammu and Kashmir.
Even as India expressed willingness to take forward the process to improve ties, as decided at bilateral meeting at Ufa in Russia, it also rejected Pakistani claim that its troops shot down an Indian drone.
Talking to media persons here after a meeting of senior union ministers, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said there should be no doubt that unprovoked firing from the Pakistani side would meet with effective and forceful response from Indian forces.
India had raised the issue of ceasefire violations but Islamabad sought to shift the blame on India, he said.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar met in New Delhi on Thursday afternoon over ceasefire violations by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir.
“We remain committed to steps that contribute to peace and tranquillity on the border. However, there should be no doubt that unprovoked firing from the Pakistani side would meet with effective and forceful response from Indian forces. Nor will we let down our guard against infiltration and cross-border terrorism,” Jaishankar said.
Answering a query, Jaishankar said if Pakistan’s intention was to strengthen peace and tranquility on the borders, India was committed to that.
“If there is infiltration and cross-border terrorism, then the situation is different. That choice is not ours,” he said.
The foreign secretary said Pakistani Rangers resorted to sniper fire in Akhnoor Sector on July 15, in which one BSF personnel sustained injury. It was followed by firing of flat trajectory weapons and mortars.
Jaishankar said in another firing by Pakistani forces in Akhnoor, a woman was killed and three others injured.
He said the Deputy Inspector General of Border Security Force in Jammu sought to make telephonic contact with sector commander of Pakistan Rangers in Sialkot four times on Wednesday but received no response.
“On receiving this information, our NSA (National Security Advisor) spoke to our High Commissioner in Pakistan (T.C.A. Raghavan on Wednesday) asking him to take this up with the Pakistani government. We sought an end to firing as well as corrective steps,” Jaishankar said.
He said National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval then spoke to Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi on similar lines but there “was no response from the Pakistan government to our demarche”.
Jaishankar said intermittent firing continued in Akhnoor Sector till 4.15 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Indian foreign secretary said at 5 p.m. the NSA again spoke to Raghavan, who had taken up the issue with the Pakistan government, and with Basit.
“At 17.30 hours, High Commissioner Basit got back to the NSA conveying that the firing was initiated by India and that an Indian drone had been brought down by Pakistan. The NSA naturally inquired why in that case the conversations were not initiated by the Pakistani side,” Jaishankar said.
The NSA emphasised the “seriousness of unprovoked firing” by Pakistan and conveyed that India would retaliate if it continued, Jainshankar said.
“Accordingly, yesterday (Wednesday) night our forces retaliated,” he added.
The foreign secretary said Basit told Doval on Thursday morning that there had been casualties on the Pakistani side.
Jaishankar said there was also an infiltration attempt by three suspected terrorists on Thursday afternoon in Jammu sector and they were given covering fire by Pakistani forces, which was effectively retaliated.
Jaishankar said he spoke to Basit on the issue on Thursday morning while Raghavan met Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry following a request for a meeting from Islamabad.
“The Pakistan foreign secretary handed over a note verbale that referred to developments of July 15 that were raised by the Indian side. He orally brought up the morning exchange of fire. Through the note, the Pakisan government sought to shift the responsibility for firing on to the Indian side,” Jaishankar said.
Referring to the drone issue raised by Pakistan, he said its photograph indicated it was not of Indian design nor of any UAV category held in the inventory of the Indian armed forces. “It appears to be of Chinese design, and is commercially available off the shelf.”
Jaishankar also said that Pakistan, after four days, registered protest over an Indian helicopter manoeuvering close to the border, and the issue had been settled at the level of local operational commanders.
He reminded that at their meeting in Ufa in Russia on July 10, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif agreed to the meeting of chiefs of BSF and Pakistan Rangers and subsequent meeting of director generals of military operations.