Keran: Now, Pak troops force India to end construction work

Pakistani troops have forced Indian authorities to end construction work on a model village project near the frontier town of Keran, saying it violates the terms of the 2003 ceasefire agreement with India. Highly placed Jammu and Kashmir government sources have said that, troops at Pakistani forward positions broadcast warnings over loudspeakers at about 5 pm on Monday, saying they would not be responsible for the consequences if the work went ahead. Local authorities stopped work soon thereafter.

Jammu and Kashmir government sources said, the work included building a community hall and some minor public facilities some 200 metres from the Kishanganga river—known as the Neelum in Pakistan—which runs along the Line of Control.

Keran recently saw intense fighting, after Pakistani troops were alleged to have occupied small stretches of territory and border observation posts running along a ridge over the abandoned village of Shalabhatta. The intrusion was announced to have cleared after a fortnight—long military operation, but reports have suggested three Indian military outposts were only secured a week after that.

 Keran: Now, Pak troops force India to end construction work

Keran recently saw intense fighting, after Pakistani troops were alleged to have occupied small stretches of territory and border observation posts running along a ridge over the abandoned village of Shalabhatta. Pic: Firstpost

This latest stand—off comes amidst a sharp increase in ceasefire violations, with Indian and Pakistani troops exchanging non—stop fire in the southern stretches of their frontier in Jammu and Kashmir in recent days.

Indian diplomatic sources say the November 2003 ceasefire was based on an unwritten agreement, which in essence stipulated that neither side would reinforce its fortifications along the LoC — a measure first agreed to after the 1971 war. In 2006, the two sides exchanged drafts for a formal agreement. Since then, the sources said, negotiations have stalled over differing ideas on what kind of construction is permissible.

However, the Keran model village stand—off marks the first instance in which Pakistan has questioned India’s right to engage in civilian construction works on its side of the Line of Control.

In October last year, violent skirmishes broke out in Charunda, near Uri, after a confrontation over new Indian military construction in the area. Pakistan’s Director-General of Military Operations complained about Indian construction work around Charunda, in Uri. His Indian counterpart, Lieutenant-General Vinod Bhatia, however, responded that India’s works were purely intended to prevent illegal border crossings. The unresolved dispute led to exchanges of fire, which eventually escalated into shelling and the killings of soldiers on both sides.

India insists that it needs to expand counter-infiltration infrastructure because of escalating operations by jihadist groups across the LoC.

Indian and Pakistani diplomats last met on December 2, 2012, to discuss the draft agreement, but could make no headway.

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Updated Date: Oct 23, 2013 08:07:15 IST