MUZAFFARABAD: An Indian soldier has been captured by the Pakistan army, while Indian soldiers have also been killed in the episode of firing across the Line of Control, it emerged Thursday.
Confusion over the capture of the soldier persists as neither Indian nor Pakistani officials are issuing any official statements on the matter, as yet.
An Indian army official based in New Delhi said, “It is confirmed one soldier from 37 Rashtriya Rifles with weapons has inadvertently crossed over to the Pakistan side of the Line of Control”.
Avoiding connecting the capture to today's firing incident, he said such incidents of people including civilians crossing the frontier by mistake have happened in the past from both sides.
Building a case in favour of India, he added that those who strayed are returned.
“Pakistan has been informed [of the soldier's crossing] through the DGMO on hotline,” ANI News quoted Indian Army sources as saying.
Pakistan’s envoy confirms arrest of Indian soldier
Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations Dr Maleeha Lodhi, while talking to Al Jazeera, confirmed that Pakistan Army has "captured an Indian soldier who was trying to enter” into Pakistani territory.
Lodhi, however, denied that there was any surgical strike inside the territory of Pakistan, as claimed by the Indian forces.
“India is trying to divert global attention from the war crimes it is committing in occupied Kashmir, where more than a 100 people have been killed in cold-blood by Indian forces,” said the Pakistan's ambassador.
She said that India is trying to provoke a conflict with Pakistan to calm its domestic opinion, because even India’s domestic opinion is questioning its role in Kashmir. “My country [Pakistan] has exercised maximum restraint in the face of what happened in the early hours of Thursday.”
“What we saw on Thursday was cross border shelling, by mortar fire as well as small arms fire. We have captured one Indian soldier who was trying to cross while two Pakistani soldiers were martyred in cross border shelling. But there was no surgical strike inside territory controlled by Pakistan.”
“It is very irresponsible of India to act this way. We want the international community to urge restraint upon India,” she maintained.
Also read: What is a 'surgical strike'?
On Pakistan's side, two officials based in Chhamb sector said the Indian soldier with weapons was captured at 1330 local time on Thursday.
Separately, security sources confirmed the same to Dawn.com. The sources said a 22-year-old Indian soldier by the name Chandu Babulal Chohan was taken into custody by Pakistani forces.
They added that at least eight Indian soldiers were killed. The bodies of the Indian soldiers have not been recovered by the Indian Army from the site of the skirmishes at the LoC. Security sources claim an attempt to recover the bodies by the Indian Army has not been made yet as they fear coming under fire from Pakistan Army troops.
In his show Capital Talk on Geo News, Hamid Mir said that 14 Indian soldiers were killed in two sectors. Defense analyst Major General (Retd) Ijaz Awan, who was on his show, confirmed his claim.
Early morning firing
An exchange of fire between Pakistani and Indian LoC troops began at 2:30am and continued till 8:00am in the Bhimber, Hotspring, Kel and Lipa sectors in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the ISPR statement said.
"Pakistani troops befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing on the LoC."
Shortly after the exchange of fire, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Defence held a joint press conference in New Delhi in which DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh alleged that surgical strikes were conducted by the Indian army on "terror launch pads along the LoC". The strikes will not continue, he said.
The Indian DGMO claimed that "some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launchpads along the Line of Control".
"The Indian army conducted surgical strikes last night at these launchpads. Significant casualties have been caused to these terrorists and those who are trying to support them... The operations aimed at neutralising the terrorists have since ceased."
Pakistan rubbished the Indian claims of conducting a surgical strike.
"The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by Indian to create false effects," a military statement said.
"This quest by the Indian establishment to create media hype by rebranding cross-border fire as a surgical strike is fabrication of the truth. Pakistan has made it clear that if there is a surgical strike on Pakistani soil, the same will be strongly responded."
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) said Pakistan’s airspace would be safeguarded at any cost. "PAF is always alert and ready to issue a befitting response to foreign aggression," a spokesperson said.