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Hurt badly since 2019, Pakistan Army beefs up positions at LoC, terror launchpads full

Pakistan Army bringing in private firms to strengthen positions to withstand Indian artillery fire. Indian Army, too, is adding latest weaponry, surveillance systems.

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Uri (Kashmir): The Pakistan Army has focussed on fortifying its bunkers and positions along the Line of Control (LoC), besides inducting new, high-calibre weapons as the ceasefire with India touches the one-year mark Friday, ThePrint has learnt.

Sources in the defence and security establishment said that while the ceasefire has remained in force since 25 February last year, except for two localised incidents, the terror launch pads near the LoC are full, infiltration attempts have taken place and more are expected in the summer ahead.

Induction of new weaponry is on in the Indian Army too, including the new, advanced SAKO sniper rifle, small arms, and a range of new surveillance equipment.  

While India is also fortifying its positions, the Pakistan Army is believed to have brought in private firms to beef up its forward positions to withstand Indian artillery fire, which had taken a toll on them since 2019, following a change in Indian strategy.

Sources said that since 2019, the Indian Army was specifically targeting positions held by Pakistani battalions of Punjabi origin.

This, they said, was done after the Army realised that targeting Baloch, Mujahid (a paramilitary force) or other battalions did not have any effect on the Pakistan Army.

“We specifically targeted positions held by Punjabis. Every time we targeted them, the Pakistan Army was hurt because body bags had to be sent back to Punjab, which is the power centre in Pakistan. The rest of the soldiers are like cannon fodder for them,” a top Army officer posted along the LoC said.

ThePrint travelled to forward positions at the LoC to get ground inputs on how life has changed since the ceasefire agreement last year, which came as a surprise then.

Also read: India, Pakistan agree to observe ceasefire along LoC, pull back specialised offensive units

India inducts new surveillance systems, firepower

During the past year, India has focussed on ramping up its capability at the LoC through induction of new surveillance systems and small arms.

One of the major inductions for soldiers has been the SAKO sniper rifle, a Finnish rifle which was earlier bought for the special forces.

However, these rifles, with a range of about 1,500 metres, are now issued to regular infantry units.

These soldiers till now were equipped with the Russian Dragunov sniper rifle, commonly known in the armed forces as DSR.

As reported by ThePrint earlier, the DSRs in service with the Indian Army, for the most part, don’t have the ability to operate with an inline clip on day-sight and night-sight together.

Older versions of DSRs, which populate the Indian Army’s arsenal, have wooden buttstocks and a recoil that affects accuracy and convenience of use. Lack of a bipod was another hindrance.

Unlike the Dragunov, the SAKO comes with all modern fittings and a bipod which gives its stability.

The Army has also inducted a range of surveillance equipment along the LoC, which are all connected to command headquarters for live feed.

It has also added other equipment along the LoC to add to its firepower, sources said.

While Bofors and other artillery systems have been inducted, sources said Pakistanis fear the deployment of anti-aircraft guns at the LoC, which exact a deadly toll on enemy bunkers.

Terror launchpads are full

Sources in the Army said that over two dozen launchpads close to the LoC in the Kashmir sector are full and they have detected in total the presence of about 100-130 terrorists.

It is expected that the coming summer will see several infiltration attempts.

Sources said that during the ceasefire period, the Pakistani military has not been providing any direct support for infiltration, but at times terrorists have been spotted going in and out of Army positions.

“The way they dress and the load that they carry clearly indicate that they are not regular soldiers,” a source said, explaining the presence of terrorists even in Pakistani Army positions.

Lt Gen D.P. Pandey, commander of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, told ThePrint that the Pakistani Army had sought the ceasefire because of international scrutiny, the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) review, and a tense western border with Afghanistan, besides severe setbacks at the LoC.

Ceasefire a respite for border villages

While the military focusses on ramping up its capabilities, the year-long ceasefire has been a boon for border villages.

ThePrint interacted with a number of villagers who hoped that the ceasefire would continue.

During the past year, residents of villages along the LoC and other sectors have been able to lead a normal life — not having been under the shadow of Pakistani mortars, shells and sniper rifles.

Unlike on the Indian side, the Pakistanis have built several bunkers in villages. Sources explained that since there are no bunkers in Indian villages, Pakistani shelling targeting civilians exacts a human toll. 

The local authorities are also using the ceasefire period to build bunkers in border villages, which will enable locals to take shelter during shelling by the Pakistan Army.

In the past, civilians have been killed in ceasefire violations by Pakistan. Several have also been injured in such incidents, including children and women.   

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)

Also read: Killing gunmen easy, Kashmir’s ‘white collar terrorists’ a threat, says Army’s Chinar Corps chief


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