ISLAMABAD: Indian border guards killed two Punjab Rangers’ personnel in Shakar­garh sector on Wednesday after calling them for a flag meeting on the Working Boundary.

“A commander of the Indian Border Security Force in Shakargarh sector sought a flag meeting at 11am this morning, but when our men reached there, BSF soldiers started shooting at them,” a spokesman for Punjab Rangers said.

Naik Riaz Shakir and Lance Naik Mohammad Safdar, who were deputed for the meeting sought by the BSF, died amid a hail of bullets.

The Foreign Office summoned the Indian deputy high commissioner to lodge a protest over the incident.

“The government of Pakistan strongly condemns the action of the BSF troops, which is in violation of the commitment by both sides to maintain ceasefire along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary,” an FO statement said.

A demarche given to the Indian diplomat asked his government “to investigate the incident, bring the perpetrators to justice and ensure maintenance of peace and tranquillity along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary”.

According to Punjab Rangers, the BSF firing was unprovoked. Flag meetings are routinely held by troops to settle local matters between the two sides.

The spokesman said the Rangers replied effectively and “inflicted losses” on the other side.

The relatively calm but heavily fortified Working Boundary saw some of the most intense cross-border firing in 2014, leading to the killing of 16 civilians in skirmishes in October.

The two personnel killed on Wednesday were the first Pakistani paramilitary casualties on the Working Boundary over the past one year. An army soldier was killed on the Line of Control in November.

Our Correspondent in Sialkot adds: Officials of Chenab Rangers said the two personnel were shot when they reached the ‘Zero Line’ on BSF’s invitation. “The heavy shelling by the Indian side did not allow their colleagues to rescue the two men,” the Rangers said.

When they were brought back in the evening, they were dead. They were buried in Shakargarh late in night.

On Oct 31, BSF personnel shot dead a 30-year-old farmer of Jalala, Shakar­garh, after dragging him into Indian territory from the Zero Line while he was working in his fields. His body was returned two days later.

His parents have called upon the government to take the matter to the Inter­national Court of Justice.

Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2015

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