India-Pakistan: Massive firefight and shelling in the Line of Control – Kashmir

The two South Asian foes have been engaged in a massive firefight and shelling for the past five days after five Indian Army soldiers were killed in an encounter with militants near the Line of Control. Hostilities have re-emerged between Indian and Pakistani troops at the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto border which divides Kashmir into two parts.

The media wing of the Pakistani military, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), accused Indian troops of using artillery and heavy mortars at the border and deliberately targeting civilians. “Indian troops resorted to unprovoked ceasefire ciolations during the last 24 hours using artillery and heavy mortars in Sharda, Dhudnial and Shahkot Sectors along the LOC deliberately targeting the civilian population,” a statement issued by ISPR reads.

According to ISPR, Indian forces were engaged in the “indiscriminate fire of heavy weapons”, “which injured four civilians, including a 15-year-old girl.” “Pakistan Army troops responded effectively with matching calibre, targeted those Indian Army posts which initiated fire,” ISPR added.

On Friday, the Indian Army released a video claiming that it retaliated in response to Pakistan’s ceasefire violation and destroyed terrorist launch pads and ammunition depots in the Pakistan side of Kashmir.

“India has carried out precision targeting of gun areas, terrorist launch pads and ammunition [depots] in response to an unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan in Keran sector of Kupwara district. There have been reports of heavy damage on their (Pakistan’s) side,” India’s defence spokesperson said.

Pakistan has accused India of committing 708 ceasefire violations in 2020 so far, in which 2 citizens were killed while 42 sustained injuries. India, meanwhile, has claimed there have been over 1,100 ceasefire violations by Pakistan this year so far.

The tension between the two countries has escalated since August 2019, when India revoked the decades-old special status of Jammu and Kashmir, which Pakistan considered a violation of an existing bilateral agreement.

Islamabad has repeatedly raised the issue at international forums, including the United Nations, but New Delhi has insisted that Kashmir is an internal matter and world powers should not interfere. The two countries have fought three wars over the Kashmir issue since gaining independence from the British rule in 1947.