India accuses Pakistan of ceasefire violation

Srinagar, September 23:

The Indian army accused Pakistan of a “serious” ceasefire violation along the de facto border dividing Kashmir between the two nations after a gunbattle left two soldiers dead.

One died Sunday and another yesterday during a marathon gunbattle with Muslim militants along the Line of Control (LoC), according to army spokesman SD Goswami. “We have foiled an infiltration attempt by the militants over the past two days,” he said.

“Pakistani troops tried to facilitate the infiltration by providing covering fire to the militants. It is yet another serious ceasefire violation by Pakistan,” said the spokesman.

He said they have lodged a “strong protest with Islamabad.” There was no immediate comment from Pakistan. Local reports said four militants died during the battle, but the army could not confirm the deaths.

India accuses Pakistan of arming and funding militants and pushing them across the heavily militarised LoC into the Indian zone of Kashmir, where a deadly revolt has been under way against New Delhi’s rule since 1989.

However, Islamabad vehemently rejects the accusations.

The latest incident comes before a meeting between Indian Premier Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in New York later this week, their first discussions since Zardari replaced Pervez Musharraf.

Tensions have escalated along the border since last July when New Delhi accused “elements” in Pakistan of involvement in a suicide car-bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul that left at least 41 people dead. In the past few months, Kashmir has witnessed the biggest pro-independence demonstrations since the insurgency erupted.

A Hindu-Muslim land row at Amarnath triggered the protests, which prompted a tough crackdown by security forces in the border state.