Committed to Ramadan ceasefire, border truce with Pakistan: Defence Minister

Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi, June 5: Security forces in Jammu and Kashmir will honour the Ramadan ceasefire and the border truce with Pakistan but any “unprovoked” attack won’t go unanswered, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday.

“When it is an unprovoked attack, the Army was given the right to retaliate. We honour the ceasefire but, of course, a margin was given to us when it is an unprovoked attack. The ceasefire is the government of India decision and we abide by it,” Sitharaman told reporters here.

Asked if the Defence Ministry and the Indian Army were part of the Home Ministry’s decision not to launch operations against militants during the Muslim month of fasting, Sitharaman said her ministry and the forces were “taken on board and support the Home Ministry’s view on it”.

Replying to a question if the ceasefire in the state would be extended beyond Ramadan, the Defence Minister said it was not her role “to assess whether ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir has been successful or not” and the decision about that had to be taken by the government of India.

In reply to a question about intermittent exchange of fire along the border with Pakistan, she said India was committed to the 2003 ceasefire agreement between the two countries.

She said Indian Director General Military Operations Lt.Gen. Anil Chauhan held hotline talks on May 29 with his Pakistani counterpart Maj. Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza in the spirit of India’s commitment to the truce.

She, however, quickly added that there would be no compromise on India’s border safety.

“We shall keep our borders safe as it was the business of the armed forces to guard the boundaries and maintain peace unless “we are provoked” to retaliate.

“We shall be alert that no unprovoked attack goes without a response. It is our duty to keep India safe.”

The Indian and Pakistan army commanders on Wednesday agreed to implement the 2003 ceasefire pact in “letter and spirit” after months of persistent crackling of gunfire and mounting casualties on both sides.

In the first five months of this year, there have been over 1,200 firing incidents on the border between India and Pakistan.

India has said Pakistan violated the ceasefire over 1,250 times along the LoC and International Border since January 1. The border shooting has claimed 36 lives on the Indian side and left more than 120 injured.

Pakistan, on the other hand, said during 2018, Indian committed over 1,235 ceasefire violations killing 28 civilians and injuring 117.

Firing returned after three days of relative peace on the borders when two BSF troopers were killed and 13 civilians injured in Pakistani firing near Jammu on Sunday.


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