Hopes of thaw come a cropper as Pakistan continues firing despite 'pact'

File photo: Border Security Force (BSF) jawans patrol near Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch (Photo: PTI)
Even as India is sending out soft signals to Pakistan by announcing a 'Ramzan ceasefire', the response from across the border has not been encouraging.

Two BSF personnel, including an officer, were on Sunday killed as Pakistani Rangers targeted Indian posts along the international border with mortar and firing.

The two countries are witnessing an unprecedented spike in the number of ceasefire violations in the past few months.

Overall, there has been a 300 per cent increase in incidents of cross-border firing along the border in Jammu and Kashmir so far this year, taking the number of deaths and injuries to BSF personnel to a five-year high. 

As on 24 May, there were over 300 unprovoked incidents of firing incidents this year, up from 111 instances last year along this front. The figures for earlier years were 204 incidents (in 2016), 350 (in 2015) and 127 during 2014.

According to data accessed by a news agency, the firing has left five BSF personnel dead and 34 injured.

Casualties have not been limited to security personnel, as there has been a huge impact on civilians as well. 

As on 29 May, at least 25 civilians lost their lives in shelling in areas adjoining the border, as per a report. 

A week ago, the same report says, nearly 80,000 civilians fled over a hundred villages in Araria, Samba and RS Pura districts of the state.

Such provocations might negatively affect Indo-Pak relations, which were reportedly showing signs of improvement.

The two nations  had agreed on May 29, to "fully implement" the ceasefire pact of 2003 in "letter and spirit" forthwith to stop border skirmish in Jammu and Kashmir.

The development came after a hotline was established between the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGsMO) of India and Pakistan.

In an interview to the Indian Express, the Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad Ajay Bisaria, had said India and Pakistan had been working "in recent months on small steps forward, particularly on the humanitarian side, to build an atmosphere of trust between the countries." 

Bisaria said the two countries were planning to exchange all prisoners in a bid to improve ties.

Union Minister Hansraj Ahir on Sunday, however, said the government would be "constrained" to revoke the Ramzan ceasefire it had announced last month if Pakistan continued to indulge in cross-border firing and terrorism.

Ahir, the Union Minister of State for Home, said, "We had decided to suspend operations in view of Ramzan. However, there is no respite in cross-border terrorism and ceasefire violations on the part of Pakistan." 

"We will be constrained to revoke the ceasefire agreement," the minister said at a press conference.

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With agency inputs

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