Army vice-chief vows ‘befitting reply’ over LoC shelling.
New Delhi: With an obvious eye on scaling up the already-explosive border situation, Pakistan has started using heavier guns, including 120mm guns, whose indirect fire and parabolic trajectory causes the maximum damage.
Sunday’s shelling with such guns at Bhimber Gali in Rajouri hit a post of a Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JKLI) unit that was manning a crew-served weapon, killing four Indian soldiers, including a 22-year-old Army captain. On Monday, the Army vice-chief, Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand, warned Pakistan: “We will continue with our process of giving a befitting reply ... (Our) action will speak for itself”.
Pakistan’s resorting to heavy-calibre guns, in place of LMGs and smaller weapons, usually draws an equal response from the Indian side, which is forced to use equal calibre guns in a tit-for-tat response.
A crew-served weapon is one that is manned by more than one person, like an LMG, where one person keeps on pulling the trigger while another keeps on feeding the ammunition rounds.
JKLI soldiers are drawn from among locals in Jammu and Kashmir and just a little over half of its fighting men are Muslims, while the other half comprises Hindus, Sikhs and Ladakhi Buddhists.
A top official of India’s military establishment suggested to this newspaper the possibility that the Pakistani shell may have penetrated a weakened part of the roof of the post, that gave way. “Usually, our posts have shell-proof roofs, but this one shell must have hit a weakened part or landed in an opening which caused the explosion inside the bunker, leading to the loss of lives,” he said.
“Usually small arms, LMGs and MMGs are used in the heated India-Pakistan cross-border firing across the LoC. Such weapons are used for direct firing. While heavier guns like 120mm use indirect firing, where there is much greater chance of creating havoc. This is an obvious bid to step up the tension,” the official added.
“Moreover the site of the incident, about 600 metres from the LoC, is a very thickly wooded mountainous area where Pakistani Army posts are located in much higher altitudes than Indian posts,” he said.
In the last 35 days since the start of the new year, seven Indian Army soldiers and two BSF personnel have lost their lives due to Pakistan shelling from across the LoC.