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Pakistan used heavy artillery 74 times to attack Indian Army positions in March

There have been 267 instances of ceasefire violations last month as well, making it the highest this year.

Apr 18, 2019, 10.00 PM IST
NEW DELHI: There have been 74 instances of ‘calibre escalation’ through the use of heavy artillery and mortars by the Pakistan Army on Indian Army positions and civilian areas along the Line of Control in March.

The development came to light in an internal army report, whose details have been shared with ET. There have been 267 instances of ceasefire violations last month as well, making it the highest this year.

Pakistan has also taken precautionary steps near the Line of Control (LoC) by moving their reserve formations forward, according to the report. In fact, a few days after the February 14 Pulwama terrorist attack in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troops were killed, Pakistan in expectation of a major retaliation by Indian forces had mobilised its troops along the border with India.

On the Kashmir front, the situation appears to have improved following a decline in civilian protests, stone pelting incidents and recruitment of locals into terrorist ranks. There were 17 stone pelting incidents in March, 16 in February and 20 in January. There have also been only 18 locals recruited into terrorism upto March this year, as compared to 32 and 23 during the corresponding months last year and in 2017.

Meanwhile, officials explained that the 74 instances of calibre escalation by the Pakistan Army includes the use of most of the artillery guns in its inventory. This includes 105mm, 130mm and 155mm artillery guns.

Last month, the army had stated that their Pakistani counterparts had targeted Indian posts and civilian areas with mortar bombs and heavy artillery guns. The army has been retaliating in equal measure. Earlier this month as well, the army claimed to have hit terrorist launch pads in Nikial, Rakhchakri, Kotli and Bhimber in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. These areas are notorious for Border Action Team (BAT)-comprising Pakistani Special Service Group commandos and terrorists- attacks against Indian Army posts and patrols across the LoC.

The army believed that Pakistan will attempt to carry out attacks through not just BAT, but sniping, planting of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) near Indian patrols as well, and also use infrastructure against it, explained officials. So it dominated the LoC by fire assaults to ensure that the Pakistan forces doesn’t resort to these measures.

Since the Pulwama attack, the ceasefire violations between the armies of the two countries has increased. It became high on February 26 when the Indian Air Force carried out air strikes on a terrorist facility in Balakot, Pakistan and on the next day as well when the Pakistan Air Force retaliated made a failed attempt to target Indian military installations in J&K. While the ceasefire violations numbered 267 in March, they were at 215 in February and 203 in January.

Meanwhile, data compiled from August last year shows stone pelting incidents in J&K have reduced. It was 66 in August, 38 in September, 55 in October, 41 in November, 37 in December, as compared to 17 last month. “Local recruitment has also been restricted only to South Kashmir,” said an official.

There have been six local terrorist recruitments in March, seven in February and five in January. All this comes in the backdrop of the security forces going all out to target the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist group, which claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack. About 68 terrorists have been killed until April this year, including 27 from the JeM.

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