The Pakistan army said on Wednesday that it had shot down an Indian ‘quadcopter’ along the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Kashmir region.
An army statement said the Indian quadcopter violated Pakistan’s airspace in Rakhchikri sector along the LoC which divides the two countries in Kashmir.
“Pakistan Army troops shot down an Indian spying quadcopter in Rakhchikri Sector along LoC. The quadcopter had intruded 650 meters on Pakistan’s side of the LoC,” the army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations, said in a brief statement.
It is the second time the Pakistan army has claimed to shoot down an Indian quadcopter in less than two months.
The Pakistan army said on April 9 that it had shot down an Indian quadcopter along the LoC after it committed airspace violation.
Pakistan and India declared a ceasefire along the LoC, the de facto border between both countries in the disputed Kashmir region, in 2003. However, both sides routinely exchange fire and accuse each other of ceasefire violations. The last few days have also seen renewed exchanges of gunfire across the LoC, each side accusing the other of instigating the clashes.
The ties between the two nations became particularly strained in February of 2019 when Indian Air Force jets bombed what they claimed was a Jaish-e-Mohammed training camp in retaliation for a militant attack in the Pulwama district of Kashmir that killed 40 police personnel, leading to a series of military clashes in which Pakistan claimed to have shot down at least one Indian plane.
Tension also heightened after India lifted the special status for the Indian-controlled Kashmir in August 2019, abrogating Article 370 of the Indian Constitution designed to guarantee the rights of the Kashmiri people. Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic relations, suspended trade relations and train service with India in response.
Relations between the two countries, which have fought three major wars since achieving their independence from the United Kingdom in 1948, have remained at a very low level since then.
Earlier this month, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan rejected accusations by Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh that his country had infiltrated forces across the line of control.
Responding to allegations of ‘terrorist launch-pads’ on the Pakistani side of the LoC and infiltration attempts, Khan remarked via Twitter that he has been “warning the world about India’s continuing efforts to find a pretext for a false flag operation against Pakistan”.
Speaking about occupied Kashmir, he said the “indigenous Kashmiri resistance against Indian occupation is a direct consequence of India’s oppression and brutalisation” of the people.
Leader of the Opposition and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif also rebuked India’s allegations.
“Jingoism is written all over Modi’s DNA. Despite fight against Covid-19, incessant violations of LoC by Indian army have become a norm with 940 such incidents recorded this year alone,” he said on Twitter. “Allegation of ‘terror launching pads’ by India is meant to whip up propaganda against Pakistan!”
Pakistan on Saturday had asked the United Nations to seek proof from India about the alleged “terror launch pads” near the LoC and offered full cooperation with the UN military observers for probing the accusations.
“Pakistan formally offers the United Nations to approach India for obtaining information of alleged launch pads and share the same with UNMOGIP, who will be welcomed to move into any area without sharing specifics with the Pakistan government to validate Indian claims,” the Foreign Office said in a media statement.
Last month, FO spokesperson Aisha Farooqui had strongly rejected the “irresponsible, spurious and totally false allegations” against Pakistan by the Indian army chief.
Indian army chief General MM Naravane had alleged that while India was busy “not only helping our own citizens but the rest of the world by sending medical teams and exporting medicines” during the coronavirus crisis, Pakistan was only “exporting terror”.
Amid a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Indian troops have intensified operations in occupied Kashmir, which was split into two federally administered territories last August. For decades, insurgents have fought against Indian rule in occupied Kashmir.
Since late March, Indian forces have killed 36 fighters, losing around 20 soldiers, including a senior army officer, during the same period, according to official data.
Several major military operations have occurred this month. Indian troops killed four Kashmiri fighters in gun battles in Indian-occupied Kashmir on 6 May, including the commander of the biggest separatist group fighting New Delhi in the disputed Himalayan region, a police official said.
Hundreds of Indian soldiers launched an operation after receiving intelligence that Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo was hiding in a village in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Naikoo, 35, had joined the fighters in 2012. A former maths teacher with a bounty of 1.2 million rupees ($15,800) on his head, Naikoo was an aide to Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani who was killed in July 2016, leading to months of unrest.
“It is a major success for the troops in Kashmir,” a police spokesman said.
On 19 May, explosions and gunshots echoed through a densely-populated neighbourhood of Srinagar for almost 12 hours, with streets largely empty as a result of a coronavirus lockdown that has kept most residents confined to their homes. Junaid Ahmed Sehrai, a commander of Hizbul Mujahideen and the son of a top separatist leader, was killed in the clash, police said in a statement.
Paramilitary troops and police exchanged fire with Kashmiri fighters after cordoning off part of the area. Five homes were reduced to rubble during the battle and 10 others were severely damaged, residents told AFP.
In each case, Indian authorities subsequently disabled mobile and internet services across the Kashmir region to forestall large crowds from gathering in the streets.
Meanwhile, India’s relations with China are also going through a period of heightened tension as both sides reinforce their military presence around four disputed areas in the Ladakh sector. Three of the standoff points are located around Galwan valley and the fourth, near Pangong lake.
According to the Hindustan Times, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army had moved soldiers to close to these four standoff points that are seen to be an effort to stop India from upgrading its border infrastructure, particularly 60-metre long bridge across the Galwan rivulet or nallah and an observation post near the Pangong lake.
The Indian army has deployed reinforcements at the four standoff points without halting work on the border infrastructure work including the concrete Galwan bridge being built as part of a 255-km road to access Daulat Beg Oldie, the last military post south of the Karakoram Pass.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- 3 Indian Security Personnel Killed, 2 Wounded In Kashmir Attack (Photo)
- India Signs $2.3bn Deal With Turkey’s TAIS Shipyards For Five Fleet Support Vessels