An Indian paramilitary soldier was killed in alleged fire from Pakistan along the international border in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region in the first case of a fatal ceasefire breach since 2020.
Lal Fam Kima, 50, a head constable with Border Security Forces, was killed after Pakistani Rangers allegedly fired without provocation at Indian troops in the Ramgarh sector in Samba district in Jammu late on Wednesday.
He was the first fatality after several alleged ceasefire violations by Pakistan in the past three weeks.
“A sacrifice was made by our brave comrade. We salute him. Whenever an attempt to disturb starts, they are given a fitting reply ... in the recent incident too, we have given them a strong answer,” said PV Ramasastry, BSF Special Director General.
There was no immediate comment from the Pakistan authorities about the allegations.
India and Pakistan share a long and rugged border in Kashmir, with tens of thousands of soldiers from each side stationed in a precarious, decades-long stand-off.
The arch-rivals often accuse each other of breaching the so-called ceasefire agreement that was signed in 2003, but was re-enforced in 2021.
The number of such incidents had fallen to zero in recent years but there has been a surge in clashes between the rival armies in the volatile region, which is marred by decides of insurgency against Indian rule.
The Muslim majority Himalayan Kashmir region is ruled by India and Pakistan in parts but claimed by both in its entirety since British colonisers left the subcontinent in 1947.
The two countries have fought three wars over the region.
Relations between the rival nuclear powers have been tense for decades but ties further nosedived in 2019 after New Delhi unilaterally changed the constitutional status of the disputed region.
Thousands of people, including civilians and soldiers have been killed over the decades in exchanges of fire along the Line of Control – the line that divides India and Pakistan.
At least 5,000 ceasefire breaches or cross-border firing incidents were reported in 2020, causing more than two dozen deaths and the destruction of homes, according to India’s Home Ministry.
The ceasefire breaches intensified in 2017 and in April 2019 the countries were almost on the brink of a full-fledged war after the killing of 40 Indian soldiers by a Kashmiri suicide bomber backed by Islamabad.
India had launched air strikes inside Pakistan that led to counterattacks by Pakistan fighter planes and a dogfight in which an Indian fighter jet was downed and its pilot briefly detained.
Both countries have since accused each of breaching the ceasefire.
Pakistani Rangers allegedly resorted to unprovoked firing at Jammu’s Arnia sector last year, to which the BSF retaliated. There was no loss of life or injury on either side.