NEW DELHI, June 23: Commanders of India and Pakistan will meet on the Line of Control in Poonch on Saturday, hoping to defuse 10 days of bloody clashes which have left several soldiers dead and led to artillery deployment close the Line of Control (LoC) for the first time in a decade, news reports said.
“The meeting between 10 Brigade Commander T.S. Sandhu and his Pakistani counterpart, 6 Sector Commander Amir Sohail Ashraf, comes a week after Pakistan rejected an appeal for a Colonel-level flag meeting,’ The Hindu newspaper quoted army sources as saying .
The fighting began on June 11 after Border Security Force soldier P.K. Mishra was shot dead by a sniper. Soldiers at the post, where Mishra was stationed, code named Kranti, returned the fire.
Two days later, soldier Harvinder Singh was shot dead in firing on a nearby post, code named Kripan. Four Pakistani soldiers, intelligence sources told The Hindu, were also reported to have been killed.
New Delhi-based military sources The Hindu that the Army had pushed 155-millimetre Bofors guns into firing positions along the LoC from Mendhar to Poonch, fearing further escalation.
Islamabad has not offered any official comment on the clashes. However, Pakistan shut down the Chakan-da-Bagh border outpost for local trade this week and suspended the weekly bus service from Poonch to Rawalakote.
The bus service was inaugurated by United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi in 2006, and has been seen as a key element in the India-Pakistan peace process.
No clear account has emerged of what led to the skirmishes, which came as Indian troops were engaged in rebuilding counter-infiltration fencing that runs across the LoC.
Even though a ceasefire went into force along the Line of Control in 2002, small-scale skirmishes have continued unabated.
Last year, for example, saw fierce fighting along the LoC in Karnah, some 140 km from Srinagar.