IAF chief warns Pak of stern steps

Violation of ceasefire will not be tolerated: Browne

IAF chief warns Pak of stern steps

Even as eerie calm prevails on the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, the senior-most serving officer of the armed forces has warned Pakistan of India’s “other options” if such frequent ceasefire violations continues.

"We are monitoring the situation carefully because if these things continue to be the way they are and these violations continue to take place, then perhaps we may have to look at some other options for compliance," Indian Air Force chief N A K Browne said on the sidelines of a National Cadet Corps function here.

The air chief's comments came on a day when the Pakistan Rangers put off a schedule flag meeting with the Border Security Force (BSF). The meeting was scheduled for January 14 but Pakistan has informed the BSF that the meeting cannot be held before February 20. The Rangers gave no reasons for putting off the flag meeting.

Browne is the first serving service chief to comment on the LoC firing in which two Indian soldiers were killed, one of whom was beheaded allegedly by of the Pakistan army.

“We have a Line of Control, we have a ceasefire agreement, we have certain structures and mechanisms which are sacrosanct. Any violation of these with impunity especially what has been happening in the last few months is totally unacceptable,” said Browne who is also serving as the chairman, Chief of Staff Committee. As many as 117 instances of ceasefire violations were recorded in 2012, bulk of which would be in the last five months.

Inquired about India's options, he said: “Options are options. We do not discuss these options openly. If the violations continue, we may have to look at the whole issue all over again."

Asked how would military leadership uphold the honour of soldiers, Browne said, "When you join the armed forces, you hold certain ethos, values and certain traditions of the country which you have to uphold."

Army officials in Delhi maintained that there was no cross-border firing on the LoC on Saturday but there was tension on border posts and army establishments in Jammu and Kashmir, including 13 Rajasthan Rifle regiment in Barasingha and 9 Maratha Light Infantry at Uri. However, no leaves were cancelled unlike that of the Pakistani Army, said an official. There is no response from the Pakistani side on the flag meeting proposal till Satuday.

The Army on Satuday has also made it clear that body of one soldier (Lance Naik Hem Raj) was found mutilated and beheaded whereas the body of second soldier (Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh, who was Hem Raj's buddy) was also mutilated during this ceasefire violation on January 8 in Mendhar Sector by Pakistan.

The fresh clarifications come in the wake of media reports from Islamabad quoting Pakistani Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, who in turn quoted the Indian Army authorities to claim that bodies of Indian soldiers were not mutilated and beheaded.

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