The Indian Army has killed around 20 Pakistani soldiers and injured several others since January 1 this year by cranking up its policy to conduct punitive fire assaults and guerrilla operations along the Line of Control (LoC) to “pro-actively dominate” the border, government sources affirmed on Thursday.
“The Army, with all its commanding officers along the LoC being given acceptable freedom of action, is hammering and bleeding the Pak army to deny it any tactical benefit or moral ascendancy along the border,” said a source.
The targeted military pressure being exerted on the Pak army along the LoC has forced it to sound 35 “red-alerts” for its border troops, even as its 10 Corps commander Lt-Gen Nadeem Raza has visited a dozen border sectors since January, said the sources.
Several Pak army posts have been destroyed in the fire assaults, with light field guns, heavy 120mm mortars and anti-tank guided missiles also coming into regular play from both sides, in areas like Balnoi, Mendhar, Kalal, Keran, Doda, Sarla, Laleali and Banwat along the 778-km LoC over the last four to five months.
All this arrives in the backdrop of the escalating rhetoric between India and Pakistan, with the two defence ministers warning each other’s country of deadly retribution, as well as the biting criticism against the Modi government by Congress and other political parties for failing to deliver on all its tough talk against Pakistan.
The terror attack on the Sunjuwan Army camp in Jammu, which left six soldiers and a civilian dead last week, has further ratcheted up tensions between the two countries. India has already lost 16 soldiers, apart from BSF personnel and civilians, in over 280 ceasefire-fire violations (CFVs) and terror incidents in J&K this year.
But both Army chief General Bipin Rawat and Northern Command chief Lt-Gen Devraj Anbu have repeated that the Pak Army “is suffering three to four times more casualties” in the heavy exchange of cross-border firings.
If India lost 32 soldiers in CFVs, infiltration and other incidents along the LoC in 2017 (another 30 laid down their lives in counter-terrorism operations in the hinterland), sources said it’s estimated that 130-140 Pakistan soldiers were killed in the same year based on “radio intercepts, intelligence inputs and other information collated from various sources”.
But politics and estimates apart, the fact remains there has been no let up on the terror tap from across the border throughout the winter also this time. The assessment is there are around 400 terrorists in and around “launch pads” along the LoC, both south and north of the Pir Panjal range, seeing for an opportune time to sneak into J&K.
Even as the Indian security forces brace for “a hot summer” in the hinterland, there are no indications that the war of attrition along the LoC, with “caliber escalation of weapons” becoming the norm, will ebb in the arriving months.
The sharp spike in the cross-border hostilities, which saw as many as 860 CFVs along the LoC and another 120 along the international border last year, started after Indian Para-Special Forces conducted the “surgical strikes” against terror launch pads in four various locations in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir to avenge the killing of 19 Indian soldiers in a suicide attack at the Army camp in Uri in September 2016.