The Indian army said Tuesday it has hit army posts in Pakistani Kashmir that were providing cover for militants planning to cross into the Indian side of the disputed Himalayan territory. Pakistan denies that any such action took place.
Major General Ashok Narula did not specify when the military operation was carried out, but he said it happened “recently, very recently.” Narula called it part of counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir.
“The recent action by our troops in Nowshera sector has caused some damage to Pak army force, which are supporting infiltration,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
The army released video footage that apparently shows heavy artillery hitting bunkers on a mountain.
Soon after the Indian announcement, Pakistani military spokesman Asif Ghafoor tweeted that the “Indian claims of destroying Pakistani post along LOC [line of control] are false.”
Saying that the Pakistani army had been providing support to armed infiltrators, Narula said the operation aimed to “bring down the number of terrorists in Kashmir so that youth in Jammu and Kashmir are not adversely influenced by terrorists from across.” He said that with the onset of summer even more pro active counter terrorism operations were called for as infiltration is likely to increase with melting of snow and opening of mountain passes.
India has long accused Pakistan of supporting Islamic terror groups that foment a separatist insurgency and carry out strikes in Indian Kashmir. Pakistan denies it.
The situation in Indian Kashmir has deteriorated in recent months, with an upsurge in violence targeting security forces and street protests that have worried New Delhi.
Supporting the action by the Indian army, Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted that "such actions are needed to ensure peace in J@K [Jammu and Kashmir].”
The army announced the action three weeks after the Indian army vowed retaliation for the beheading of two of its soldiers allegedly by Pakistani-based militants.
In recent weeks, the two nations have also sparred over a Pakistan’s military court’s order to hang an Indian convicted of spying and terrorism who New Delhi maintains is innocent. While India has won a temporary stay on his execution from the International Court of Justice in Hague, there is pressure on the government to take a tough posture with Pakistan say analysts.
Manoj Joshi, who works at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, said that such cross-border operations were not new, but announcing them was part of a new policy.
“These kind of things happen, but the very fact that they have gone out of their way to publicize it means it is playing to a domestic audience,” said Joshi.
This is the second time the Indian army announced that its troops carried out operations in Pakistani Kashmir. Last September, it said it conducted surgical strikes to take out militant camps following an attack on an Indian army camp that killed 19 soldiers. Pakistan had said no such strikes took place in its territory.
The latest claim by the Indian army of hitting Pakistan posts will further damage the already frayed ties between the South Asian rivals.