Two Pakistani paramilitary soldiers were killed in cross-border firing with Indian border guards near the Sialkot working boundary on Wednesday, spurring a ‘strong’ protest from Islamabad.
“Two soldiers of the Chenab Rangers were killed by India’s Border Security Force (BSF) at Shakargarh Sector of Narowal district when Indian forces started firing ahead of a flag meeting,” a Chenab Rangers spokesman told AFP.
According to the spokesman, the BSF had requested the Chenab Rangers for a flag meeting on their side of the border at 11am on Wednesday. Two petty officers – Naik Riaz Shakir and Lance Naik Muhammad Safdar – were heading to participate in the meeting when they were fired upon by BSF troops at Zero Point.
The BSF continued firing with small and heavy weapons to deny Rangers personnel access to their injured colleagues. “Subsequently, the Chenab Rangers retaliated and silenced the Indian guns. However, by that time the injured troops had already embraced martyrdom,” he said.
The BSF also fired gunshots and mortar shells at 25 border villages, including Chittar, Durman and Sukhmal, triggering fear and panic among residents.
Islamabad lodged a strong protest with India over the incident. “The Indian deputy high commissioner was summoned to the ministry of foreign affairs to lodge a strong protest on the unprovoked firing of the Indian troops, resulting in the Shahadat of two personnel of Pakistani Rangers,” said a statement issued by the foreign ministry.
It said the government of Pakistan has strongly condemned the action of the BSF, terming it a violation of the commitment by both sides to maintain ceasefire along the LoC and the working boundary.
“The government of India has been urged to investigate the incident, bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure maintenance of peace and tranquility along the LoC and the working boundary,” it added.
Tensions between the two neighbours have been running high in recent months due to sporadic incidents of firing along the LoC and the working boundary.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2015.