Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, on Wednesday said Indian army will give Pakistan a reply "sooner rather than later" for the February 10 attack on a military camp allegedly by militants of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM).
At least six Indian soldiers and a civilian were killed in the suicide attack in Sunjuwan. India believes Pakistan backed up the attackers, said defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Pakistan will pay for its 'misadventure', she added.
“Pakistan thinks it is fighting a war that is paying them dividends but we have several options, including surgical strikes,” the army chief said in an interview, without disclosing details of what would compromise India’s tactical and strategic response.
Indian Deputy HC summoned over ceasefire violations along LoC
Rawat further said that he would order a ceasefire at the Line of Control (LoC) as soon as Pakistan allegedly "stops sending terrorists to India".
"The Indian army will honour the ceasefire and de-escalate tensions the day Pakistan stops sending terrorists across the line of control,” Rawat said, referring to the 2003 agreement put in place as a confidence-building measure.
The Indian forces have carried out more than 125 ceasefire violations along the LoC and the Working Boundary (WB) in the first month of 2018, resulting in the death of seven innocent civilians, while injuring 20 others. This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India is continuing from the previous year when the Indian troops committed more than 1900 ceasefire violations, according to a press release from Pakistan's Foreign Office (FO) states.
When asked about the January 27 firing in Shopian in which three protesters were killed by army bullets at a time when the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and Bhatar Jantiya Party (BJP) government had withdrawn cases against stone-pelters on the suggestion of Dineshwar Sharma, Rawat said, "The cases were withdrawn as a goodwill gesture but what goodwill are they (the stone pelters) showing? The pelting continues."
He actively defended military action, stating stone-pelters were 'hampering' military operations. "The army has a job to do. We don't want collateral damage but what o you expect us to do when we get surrounded by a stone-peltin mob? Even in Shopian, we fired in the air first."
Referring to the controversial incident where Indian Major Gogoi tied Kashmiri shawl weaver Farooq Ahmad Dar to the bonnet of a jeep last year, Rawat said, "Let me tell you, we honour local sentiments and don’t conduct operations during janazas (funeral processions) even though terrorists come there and fire in the air. What do you want me to do, have a seat in front of all jeeps. We got flak even for that."
When a video showing Dar being used as a human shield by Major Leetul Gogoi surfaced online in April last year, it caused much rage. It showed him tied in front of an army vehicle in what seems to be an apparent attempt to shield the Indian army from protesters. In the background, an army soldier can be heard saying, “Those who throw stones will meet the same fate.”
Army kills two Indian soldiers in retaliation after boy martyred along LoC
The police of Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) registered an FIR against the army after the Shopian firing. However, father of Major Aditiya (named in the Shopian FIR) approached the Supreme Court to get the police complaint quashed, when asked whether Rawat had authorised this, he replied, "The father has a right to defend his son. If a girl (Kerala actress Priya Varrier) can approach the court because her wink has offended people can’t a father do the same if he apprehends that his son would be arrested?"
The General also advised media personnel to not show visuals of grief-stricken family members of Indian martyrs, "because the media only focuses on soldiers killed by Pakistan, they build a narrative on how they have managed to inflict a blow on us," he said.
All martyrs are equal, he added, “even those killed in an avalanche”.
Yesterday, Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh was summoned to the Foreign Office on Thursday after a labourer was martyred in an unprovoked ceasefire violation by Indian forces along the Line of Control in Kashmir.
Foreign Office Director General for South Asia and Saarc Dr Mohammad Faisal condemned the fresh ceasefire violation by the Indian forces in Rawalakot/Satwal Sector, which resulted in the martyrdom of the labourer working at a crush plant on the Poonch river bank.
Lodging protest, Dr Faisal pointed out that despite calls for restraint, India continues to indulge in ceasefire violations. During the current year, the Indian forces have committed at least 391 ceasefire violations along the LoC and the Working Boundary, resulting in the martyrdom of 16 civilians and injuries to 65 others.
This article originally appeared on Hindustan Times.