Hafiz Saeed at LoC to help infiltration: Shinde

On the sidelines of a BSF Sainik Sammelan in Samba, Shinde said that according to the intelligence reports, LeT founder Hafiz Saeed could be visiting areas of LoC to abet infiltration.

Just a day after Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah issued a strong statement against the cross border firing by Pakistan violating the ceasefire, union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde revealed that Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was behind the repeated attacks.

Pakistan opened fire at Indian posts in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district on a day when Shinde was visiting the International Border in the region.

On the sidelines of a Border Security Force (BSF) Sainik Sammelan in Samba, Shinde said that according to the intelligence reports, LeT founder Hafiz Saeed could be visiting areas of LoC to abet infiltration.

Responding to Abdullah’s statement that India was at the “receiving end” all the time, Shinde said, “We can’t say that we are always on the receiving side. We have to compromise sometimes, but if they (Pakistan) take an uncompromising position, we will deal with them accordingly.”

Agreeing to Abdullah’s remark on third party intervention, he said that “anything that has to happen has to happen bilaterally.”

The home minister said the matter has been taken up in flag meetings. “I have surveyed areas along the border today, even those from where infiltration took place recently. Yes, there is more infiltration as compared to past times. But, the forces are ready to face any situation,” he asserted.

On providing security to residents of border areas, the home minister said shelters have to be created by the state government for the civilians when they feel threatened and frightened.

Asked about the reasons for the recent spurt in border firing by Pakistan, he said, “We don’t know what has led to the spurt in ceasefire violations, but we are discussing the matter and will find out.”

Shinde said a cordial atmosphere was essential for bilateral talks between India and Pakistan.

Earlier, Shinde made an aerial survey of the International Border in Samba, Akhnoor, Ranbir Singh Pura (R.S. Pura) and Hira Nagar sectors. He took a security meeting with top BSF field commanders at the Samba headquarters of the paramilitary force.

Shinde, accompanied by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and other senior officials, also visited the Hira Nagar police station where four policemen and two civilians were killed by three terrorists Sep 26 this year. The terrorists had later stormed an army camp in Samba where they killed three soldiers and a Lt. colonel, before being gunned down by army commandos.

On a day when Shinde was in the region, Pakistan again violated the ceasefire.
Defence spokesman Col. R.K. Palta told IANS, “Pakistan Army has violated the ceasefire in Hamirpur area of Bhimber Gali today (Tuesday) morning. They have used mortars, automatics and small arms to target our positions. Our troops have effectively retaliated Pakistan firing using equal calibre weapons.”

“The firing started 10.35 a.m. today (Tuesday) and firing exchanges continued in the area till 11.15 a.m,” he added.

The ceasefire violation came barely hours after an earlier firing exchange when Pakistani troops indulged in heavy shelling of Indian positions in R.S. Pura sector of the international border in Jammu district late Monday night.

A senior para military Border Security Force (BSF) officer said Pakistani troops used 82 mm mortars and other heavy weaponry to target positions in Nikkowal and Abdullian areas of R.S. Pura sector.

“The firing started at 9.45 p.m. Monday. We have retaliated strongly to Pakistan shelling,” the official said.

Since the beginning of this year, Pakistani troops have been frequently violating the bilateral ceasefire which was signed by India and Pakistan in November 2003.

A modicum of normalcy had returned into the lives of thousands of people living close to the Line of Control (LoC) and the international border in Jammu and Kashmir after the ceasefire agreement.

But since the beginning of this year, because of repeated Pakistan ceasefire violations, many families living in border villages have been forced to flee to safer places.

Addressing a state police function in Srinagar on Monday, Abdullah had said, “In case Pakistan doesn’t respect the ceasefire agreement and continues to violate it, then New Delhi should look for other options… If they (Pakistani troops) violate ceasefire and continue attacks on us, we won’t tolerate it.”

Showing his concern towards his people who have been badly hit by consistent attacks on villages in  Samba, RS Pura and Akhnoor, Abdullah had said, “It has made the local people leave their homes, abandon agricultural activities and flee to safer places.”

“Obviously, this cannot be a one-sided affair. It cannot be a situation where we are at the receiving end and no response is given,” he had further added.

Stating that he would ask the Centre to take up the issue with Pakistan, he had said, “Tell them that the answer to shelling cannot be given by words. We do not want to retaliate with the bullet for the larger interests of the civilians living near the LoC and IB, but that does not mean that the answer to the bullet is not the bullet.”

He had added that the “forces behind creating tension on the border… will not be allowed to succeed”.

Stating that India and Pakistan had worked out a mechanism “whereby the DGMOs of the two countries would meet and find ways to deescalate tension on the LoC and IB”, Abdullah had said, “I believe that is an option that needs to be exercised, failing which the Government of India will have to look at responding to the ceasefire violation.”

On Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement seeking US intervention in resolving the Kashmir issue, Abdullah exhorted that Sharif was “guilty of playing to his home audience as he knows that India won’t accept any sort of foreign intervention.”

This was the second time in the last three days that Abdullah has expressed concern over the ceasefire violations on the LoC and IB.

Given that there have been 108 ceasefire violations by Pakistan this year only, Abdullah’s statement holds merit. The recent attack has made it more than clear that Pakistan is looking for some retaliation by the Indian side.

On Friday night itself in the Pakistani attack, two Border Security Force jawans sustained grievous injuries. The BSF had also lodged a complaint with the Pakistani rangers over the incident.

The government has till now showed no intention of serious action against Pakistan. The talks between Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of UN meet saw some strong words but yielded no results.

Stating that he wouldn’t accept any third party intervention in Kashmir, Abdullah targetted Sharif saying the government cannot stay silent despite the continuous attacks. “Pakistan PM is guilty of playing to his home audience. I don’t understand whether the Pakistani Prime Minister is involved in this (ceasefire violations) or whether he has no control on what’s happening in his country,” Abdullah said.

-with inputs from IANS

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