New Delhi: Tensions are soaring along the Line of Control (LoC). Since the beginning of the year, at least 11 Indian soldiers have been killed in cross-border firing by the Pakistan army.
The latest exchange of fire happened in Rajouri in which four of Indian army men, including a captain, were killed.
After the incident, Army Vice Chief Sarath Chand said that India will continue to give a "befitting reply" and its action will speak for itself. "We will continue with our process of giving a befitting reply. [Our] action will speak for itself," Chand told the reporters today.
Meanwhile, the Rajouri district administration announced the closure of all schools for three days within five kilometers of the LoC.
Indian army chief Bipin Rawat, on 12 January, had said that Indian troops were equally punishing Pakistani posts for supporting infiltration by militants and breaking the ceasefire which was put in place in 2003.
"We have started targeting [Pakistani] posts and I can assure you that, in these exchanges of fire, they have suffered three-four times the casualties. That is why we get repeated requests from Pakistan to take the ceasefire back to 2003 levels," Gen Rawat had told reporters.
This increase in causalities along the LoC paints a grim picture of the situation. In January itself, 7 soldiers of the Indian army were killed along the LoC.
In 2017, according to the data released by the government, 29 Indian soldiers died while manning the LoC. This is a sharp increase from the year 2016 when 13 Indian soldiers were killed along the LoC.
The hostilities between India and Pakistan have been soaring from last one year, but the latter half of 2017 saw more Indian soldiers being killed than the first 6 months.
In the first half of 2017, 7 Indian soldiers died while manning the LoC, while as 22 Indian soldiers were killed in the last six months of 2017. July was the month, which saw the most number of Indian soldiers being killed. At least 8 Indian soldiers died in that month.
Apart from the causalities, the year 2017 also saw a huge spike in cross-border ceasefire violation. According to official figures, 860 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops were reported in 2017, compared with 221 the year before.
The LoC is a 776km stretch of a frontier that snakes across the mountains of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the most intensively manned and militarized border in the world.