Indian Army Chief hints at use of Guided Misisles, heavy mortars at LoC

Indian Army Chief hints at use of Guided Misisles, heavy mortars at LoC

NEW DELHI: In the absence of any diplomatic detente, the deadly war of attrition between India and Pakistan along the 778-km Line of Control (LoC) and 198-km International Boundary (IB) in Jammu & Kashmir has taken a sharp turn for the worse, Times of India has reported.

India claims 860 ceasefire violations along the LoC and another 120 along the IB in 2017, the highest-ever such tally in over 15 years. The number of CFVs has already touched 241 across the LoC in the first 36 days of this year, claiming the lives of nine Indian soldiers, as per Army.

Army chief General Bipin Rawat says the Pak Army is "suffering more casualties compared to us" in the CFVs. Given the current mood, these long and bloody tit-for-tat fire assaults across the border, with even light artillery guns, heavy mortars and anti-tank guided missiles are not going to ebb anytime soon.

A day after 4 Indians soldiers and officers were killed in heavy shelling by Pakistani forces in Rajouri district, Army vice-chief Lt-General Sarath Chand <link> on Monday warned of strong retaliatory action to avenge the losses. "That (retaliation) goes without saying. I think I don't have to say that. (Our) action will speak for itself," he said.

[image: tension-ed]

Indian soldiers have also paid a heavy price. Of the 62 who laid down their lives in J&K last year, 15 were killed in CFVs, 17 in infiltration and other incidents along the LoC and 30 in counter-terrorism operations in the hinterland.

"I don't think the situation will get better in the short term. The atmosphere has been completely vitiated.

It leaves no space for any confidence-building like a ceasefire agreement," said former Northern Army Command <link> chief, Lt-Gen D S Hooda (retd), who oversaw the "surgical strikes" on September 29, 2016.

New Delhi